Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns – Back To The Shack

There’s a real special place in my heart for soul music. Don’t know why, the only other person in my family that liked it is my sister who used to practice her dance moves to the greatness that was James Brown. Sometimes, where there was no one else at home, I would catch her working on her spin moves, and while she never quite mastered the splits, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
I bring this up because the music has kept us close over the years. Blues and soul make up a large part of our familial shorthand, and even more now that we’re the last ones left.
When I first put in Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns’ new CD, Back To The Shack, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I only knew a very little about the group, but they quickly hooked me with their old-school R&B sound and oh, those horns! I love a band with a rich horn section, always have. That’s the kind of music that stirs my soul – and obviously, I’m not alone.
The band is rather large, but given their rich full sound, that’s not surprising. The lead vocals are provided by Mark Campbell while the drums are handled by Tony Braunagel and Les Falconer. Andrew Kastner plays guitar; Ed Berghoff plays acoustic guitar; Bruce Atkinson plays bass; the keyboards are played by Carlos Murguia with Mike Finnigan sitting in on one song; Les Lovitt on trumpet; Bill Bergman on sax; and Lee Thornburg does double duty on trumpet and trombone. Backing vocals are provided by Niki J. Crawford, Kathy Merrick, Carlos Murguia, Bruce Atkinson, Les Falconer, and Mark Campbell. Melanie Taylor and Mike Finnigan add their voices on one song apiece. And last but not least, Bill Bergman plays the tambourine.
Of the ten songs on the album, nine were written by Andrew Kastner, Mark Campbell, and Bill Bergman while the remaining song was penned by Carolyn Franklin.
Standin’ Before the King starts off with some old time swamp blues (love the analog “scratches” on the opening. The horns come rushing in and the song really takes off. Melanie Taylor adds her beautiful voice to the proceedings and you have the makings of a mighty fine song.
Guest pianist joins in the fun for Somethin’ In The Water. The song has a beautiful lush sound. The slower tempo adds a great deal of darkness and power to the song and Mark Campbell’s vocals are very strong. Very good song.
The simple guitar intro prior to the horns joining in gives Don’t Let Her Go a happier feel. It’s honey sweet and the kind of song that’s a throwback to the soul songs of the 1960’s. Never Too Late jumps right out of the gate with some real swing. The rhythm section drives and the horns and organ add so much flavor.
Somebody To Trust is a beautiful ballad that pulls you in quickly and it’s the kind of soul that makes you think about life while you’re pulling that special someone just a little closer to you. Hold on, don’t let go.
There’s an old school sound to Serves Me Right, a classic she’s gone number that is spiced up by the horns and strong driving rhythm and blues. This one should get you moving and grooving. Now Bad Habit is just plain old funky. This is a great Philadelphia influenced number that really gets under your skin and makes it impossible to sit still. Go on, get moving. You know you want to…
Change My Ways has a wonderful gospel approach in the vocals and a deep richness in the music. It’s a lovely message a man who is pleading for that one last chance and that he will change his life to get it. Such soul in this song.
There is real sorrow in the introduction to Ain’t No Way with a plaintive sax introducing the tune and Campbell’s vocals coming in with a sense of heartbreak. He reminds me of somewhat of Johnny Adams, one of my favorites. This one is reminiscent of some of the wonderful 1960’s crooners that I grew up listening to and admiring. This is a beautiful number and is the only one written by Carolyn Franklin.
The album comes to an end with Let Me In, a rocking jazzy gospel fueled number that is guaranteed to get the audience jumping and swaying and cheering for more. There is so much energy in this song I wish I could bottle it up and drink it instead of coffee!
If you like your music on the soulful side, look no further than Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns. They’ve got it all: great music, great vocals, interesting lyrics, and a beat that just won’t quit. Listening to this one took me back in time to when I was younger and watching my sister practice those dance moves to James Brown.

This is a wonderful album and one you’ll be happy to pull out and put on the CD player, and you just mind find yourself trying to move like James yourself. Check out their website at http://www.jackmack.com/ to find out where these fine musicians will be appearing near you – and pick up a couple of CDs while you’re there. 

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