Artist: Jimmy Adler
Album: Grease Alley
Release Date: 11/27/2015
At first I was puzzled by the opening track, “Say It Like Magic Sam,” sung over a T-Bone Walker riff. Then, as I listened to the lyric, “Try to tell it like T-Bone, say it like Magic Sam,” I quickly realized that Pittsburgh based singer/songwriter/guitarist Jimmy Adler knew exactly what he was doing. As the album unfolded, I continued to enjoy Adler’s straight-ahead, clean playing and some interesting song ideas. Clearly he was having fun, backed by excellent players. Noted guitarist Kid Andersen (Charlie Musselwhite, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats) takes the role of producer and bassist. Andersen, drummer June Core (Musselwhite) and keyboardist Jim Pugh (Robert Cray) are joined by Eric Spaulding on sax and by special guest, guitarist Chris Cain, to provide the stellar accompaniment.
Producer Andersen has a pure blues approach for his Oakland-based Greaseland Studio recordings, as evidenced earlier this year by Rockin’ Johnny Burgin’s Greetings From Greaseland. In similar fashion, Adler stays close to tradition on this record, often borrowing classic riffs and lyrics. Adler, though, in comparison to the Chicago –oriented Burgin, delivers a wider mix of styles, which includes Chicago, swamp, R&B and mostly West Coast swing. His guitar duels with Chris Cain on “No Pain” and “What Will You Do” are especially strong, accented by Cain’s incendiary leads. “Love Was Worth These Blues” is a solid slow blues burner, while “Cordelia” will inevitably remind you of the chestnut “Caledonia.” “What I’ve Done” is a soulful melody that’s reminiscent of a Steve Cropper approach. This is a no-holds-barred, respectful to the idiom blues album that will get your feet moving and make you smile.
– Jim Hynes