Artist: Big Shoes
Album: Step On It
Label: Big Little Records
Release Date: 2.23.18
Jimi Hendrix once asked the musical question “Are You Experienced?” which I’m sure if he heard just one of these eleven strong super cuts or even a few bars of any, he would have his answer. Experience is the operative word, when it comes to talkin’ ‘bout this group of veteran session and sidemen known as Big Shoes. Their name was derived from their guiding light drummer and producer Andy Peake, who perhaps just for grins, initially recruited them as a tribute band to Little Feat. They then proceeded to cause happy feet for all who heard and danced to them live around Nashville and Muscle Shoals, the two places this set was recorded. I’m telling’ ya, these Flagg Brothers got some hip boots on, ‘cause they are tighter than a crabs ass (watertight). Seriously, Big Shoes puts enough rhythm into their blues, to turn Herman Munster into Fred Astaire.
To his credit and 40 some years experience, Andy sure knew who to call. I could fill the rest of this piece with just the names of the legends these seven artists have recorded and hit the road with. Allow me to name just a few: Ronnie MiIlsap, Hank Thompson and Don Williams (three CMHOF members), Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Taj Mahal, Bobby Blue Bland, Levon Helm, Maria Muldar, Robben Ford. What we have here is R&B and C&B presented with buckets of taste and soul.
Step On It, could also be called step in it, ’cause they really have stepped in, on and up here with all original and very listenable tunes from members, Kenne Cramer, Will McFarlane, Tom Szell, Rick Huckaby, and Mark T. Jordan. Because the grooves Andy and percussionist Bryan Brock lay down, are so freakin’ good, the tasty and subtle production flourishes, may not be apparent to a first casual listen. There is much to experience here in repeated listens. “Bad For You” is a good example. My initial reaction as the first five cuts came up was “WOW, these guys are relentless, wonder if they will let up.” They don’t, not even for the breath of air on a short piano interlude from Mr. Jordan, that leads perfectly into his “Walked Out The Front Door,” a tune Bonnie Raitt recorded on Home Plate. Every song is a standout and had they been around when radio was king, just their “The Last One To Leave” would have made them a legendary group.
I have been really lucky in 2017 to have reviewed some great recordings for Elmore, a couple of which I have given 100s to. With this kickoff for 2018, I don’t want to jinx my streak, so let’s give this one a 99.5 .