Some nights when I climb back into my home office to start writing, I’m unsure what album will get the nod. I have received a few new ones that I like and I picked up one but just couldn’t bring myself to write about it.
That’s when I noticed my copy of Derrick Procell’s CD from 2016, Why I Choose To Sing The Blues. Now that’s my choice for tonight. Procell’s album caught me by surprise and after I had heard it, I knew that it was going to be one of my favorites for the year.
Indeed, it did make last year’s Honor Roll and has been featured on Time For The Blues, but I just never got around to giving it a thorough write up. Let’s see if I can remedy that situation and describe why I liked this album so much.
In a moving tribute to the one and only Howlin’ Wolf, The Wolf Will Howl Again, kicks off the album with vocals by special guest Eddie Shaw. It’s a cool look at the legend himself, and the story couldn’t be told by anyone better than Shaw. What an homage to Wolf, and yes, he WILL howl again!
Next up is the up-tempo Trouble Me No More. It’s a hard rocking number that mixes in some solid blues lyrics. It’s a quick song that builds its story quickly and never lets up on the pace for a second. Good song.
The one and only Bob Margolin plays guitar on The Eyes Of Mississippi. So, three songs in and Procell has connections to both Howlin’ Wolf AND Muddy Waters! This has very clever lyrics and Procell does some great work on harp and keyboards while Margolin adds some six-string flavor.
Next up is the title track, Why I Choose To Sing The Blues, and Procell plays all of the instruments, provides all the vocals, and probably swept up afterwards. The song spells out what it is about the music that lead Procell to become a musician, and why the blues cast its spell on him. Procell has played country, pop, rock, and Americana, but the blues has always kept him in its orbit. Listen for the who’s who of the blues that he evokes. Very nice song.
The swinging They All Find Out follows. It’s an upbeat number with a solid Chicago sound. It’s a good song to get out on the dance floor to and move what you got. The back-up singers add a great touch to the song, and I like it a lot and think it just might have to get an encore on Time For The Blues.
Next up is a slower, more intense song, Broke The Mold. This is a solid blues song with some nasty guitar licks. It’s a song that just about every blues lover will enjoy. This one could grace just about any blues show. Some nice harp work opens Ain’t Nuthin’ More About It. It’s a quick song, well written, and an uplifting number at the same time.
Sorry? is a decent Chicago style blues song that makes the most of its background singers. There are some good lyrics and the music is fun. It’s the story of a man with a checkered past who is not about to apologize for one moment of what he’s done. He’s obviously a charmer who can work his way out of any jam.
The next song is a tribute to B.B. King, Who Will Tell Lucille. Procell has a great deal of respect for the giants of the blues as evidenced by this song, The Wolf Will Howl Again, and his litany of names in the title track. This is a moving song and takes a different turn by making the song about King’s iconic guitar. The guitar riffs that evoke King’s playing are a nice touch.
Back In The Game features Billy Branch on harp. His distinctive playing on top of some swampy guitar gives the song a very cool feel. It’s a song that draws you into the world of a man searching for a way to make his way back into a life he left behind. It’s a painful place to be and Procell’s vocals wring every emotion out of the song.
Some gospel piano opens Don’t Waste A Wish On Me. It’s a simple song and Procell makes the most of the music. The lyrics are strong and the singer is in the most vulnerable position of any of the songs on the album. I swear that he sounds so much like Ray Charles on the song that I thought I was hearing Charles taking one last encore. What a great song.
A bonus song, Too Much, closes the album. It picks the tempo back up and rocks us out. This was a song that was performed live in the studio back in 1990 and you can hear the energy pouring out of every instrument. It’s a good time capsule of Procell’s work.
If you give the CD a listen, I have no doubt that you will agree with me that this was one of the best releases of 2016. Procell has a good voice that conveys emotion that goes well with his playing. He has a vision of how he wants his music to sound and he’s a strong enough artist to make it come true.
Hopefully, you will want to find out a little more about the man. You can find his little corner of the world wide web at http://www.derrickanamerican.com/. Check out the music, read about his journey back to the blues, and maybe find out where he’s going to be playing.
Because you know it’s going to be a helluva show!