Saturday, September 8, 2012

Linsey Alexander Been There Done That

Things get way too busy around here at night to sample new music. Also loud. Especially loud. So, I try to listen to new sides and write these little missives in the morning – usually alone in the Juke Joint so I can savor a few minutes of alone time – or watch an old or bad movie.

Today I eschewed the movie in favor looking through the stack of mail JoJo left of the bar. There are a lot of mailers with CDs in them and I noticed one from Delmark so I fished it out first. When you’ve got a reputation like Delmark’s, you can believe whatever is inside is going to be good.

Linsey Alexander is one of those names I’ve heard for years, but have never heard the man’s music. I don’t get to Chicago as often as I would like, and he doesn’t tour in this area. Yet. After listening to this CD, I’m going to have to work on that.

Been There Done That is old-school blues soul that draws you in on the first note and when it ends, you’ll want to hit the repeat button a few more times.

Alexander kicks off the 12 songs (he wrote or co-wrote all but one) with “Raffle Ticket.” It’s got plenty of Alexander’s shouting, and very clever lyrics. It’s also one of the three songs that harpist Billy Branch sits in on and it drives the song nicely.

Alexander’s Band includes guitar wizard Breezy Rodio, Mike Wheeler on guitar, Roosevelt Purifoy on piano and organ, Greg McDaniel on bass, James Wilson on drums, Ryan Nyther on trumpet and Bryan Fritz on tenor sax.

“Bad Man” brings some serious funk to the equation. The title track makes good use of the horn section to give the song a little jazz feel. “I Had A Dream” is next and Alexander is in total control.

The mood shifts slightly with Willie Kent’s “Looks Like It’s Going To Rain” as Alexander uses the song to pay tribute to his late friend. It’s a heart rending moment and a real highlight of the CD. Purifoy is in good form on this number and his keys add a lot.

Branch gets a chance to rock out on “My Mama Gave Me The Blues” and his harp drives the song, lifting it and making it sound like a delta revival. This is a man witnessing for the blues and he might just gain a lot of converts. “Going Back To My Old Time Used To Be” is that age old story of finding out the grass isn’t always greener and maybe it’s time to go back to what you had before. Wheeler’s guitar gets a good workout on this song.

Branch is back on “The Same Thing I Could Tell Myself” offering up some soulful riffs as Alexander slows things down. Historical fact, this composition may be the first time the word “GPS” has been incorporated into a blues song. “Lost her GPS/Couldn’t find her way back home.” And so the blues moves forward…

Next up is “Big Woman” a love song to a woman of size. Once again Wheeler provides some great guitar work. I could have done without the fat jokes at the end of the song, but to each their own said the old woman as she kissed the cow. We’re back to some old school shouting with “Going Up On The Roof.” It’s a song I wouldn’t want to play on a lonely night.

“I’m Moving” is a good straight forward song of a guy getting out of town. Sometimes, things just get to be a little too much. The CD ends with “Saving Robert Johnson” opens with some serious guitar work and then a description of the place where Johnson sold his soul. Along with the previously mentioned “GPS” reference, this song includes a mention of “email” and asks us to “poke (the devil) on Facebook.” Another first I believe, but it works.

Linsey Alexander is a fun blues artist who can entertain you all night long. I’d love to see him live, so, if we can’t get him here, we might have to plan a trip to Chicago to catch him. Somehow, I think it’ll be worth the trip.

Check out Alexander at his website, and look for Been There Done That in your favorite blues record store or online.


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