Roomful Of Blues Watch You When You Go

Roomful of Blues is a 30-year-old institution that has over a career of some 12-plus releases continued to be the poster child for skin-tight, horn-driven, guitar-based, butt-shakin', big band blues. Originally built on a jazz-blues platform grounded in the late '40s blues of Big Joe Turner and Roy Brown, RoB has evolved into its present day form under the tutelage of guitarist Chris Vachon (following in a long line of standout guitarists: Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl). Newcomer Mac Odom's vocals lend a bluesier tone to those of his predecessor, Sugar Ray Norcia. The horn section - RoB's trademark - is as always impeccable. Crisp, precise horn lines work in tandem with Vachon's stinging guitar and Hank Walther's aggressive keyboards for a stirring collection of pleasing party favourites that cover jump, swing and strong R&B-based blues. The tougher, guitar-heavy sound of "Over My Head" and the instrumental "Backlash" are top tracks, but vehicles including "The Salt Of My Tears" and " You Give Me Nothin' But The Blues" make the most of Odom's soulful voice. "Where's Bubba?" remains the quintessential RoB track on this outing, with it being slightly tongue-in-cheek, serving as a Pink Panther-ish return to form. Swing-tight grooves aplenty await from a much-heralded band whose live chops are as legendary as their track record. (Rounder)