Last time we heard from the Duke, he was introducing our waiting ears to Sunny Crownover and her Joy Boys (here); this time he's jumped her into roughly half the tracks on this disc, a 40s / 50s oriented release. Now, I'm normally not particularly a fan of that era, though I am a huge acolyte of updated revivals like Willie and the Poor Boys' (Gary Brooker, Bill Wyman, Andy Fairweather-Low, etc.) efforts, and I'm more than happy to say that Stomp! the Blues Tonight is a pairing of precisely that sort of boisterous homage alongside hard-chargin' blues.
Robillard may be following the rest of us Boomer Era babies into our mid-season years, but his hand gets nothing but stronger and surer as he does. Some of the licks in the title cut alone sting like a pack of hornets, and his vocals in Do Me Right are 100% whiskey-soaked and righteous. Then catch the blues-rock opening and solos in Three Hours Past Midnight and travel right back to the early days of Clapton, Beck, Korner, and the alley-travellin' dirty white Brit boys…and, ladies and gents, all of that is just in the first three cuts of this long 16-slice extravaganza!
Robillard outdoes himself everywhere here. The Stony Plain label features heavyweights (Ian Tyson, Ronnie Earl, Jeff Healey, etc.) but Robillard is becoming their flagship, squaring most of the corners of what this label is about. At various times during the rave instrumentals (Frankie and Johnny, for one) and honkin' horn sessions, I expected Wolfman Jack to start howling. Sunny adopts a basement blues persona in much of this, a kind of Etta / Ella tone, especially in Playful Baby, showing a side of her talent that hadn't made it quite into the swinging debut referenced a moment ago.
As Robillard states, this is a return to roots, not just the genre's but his own, when he started up the Roomful of Blues gig exactly through a love for what's so exquisitely showcased here. 'Jumpin' Blues Revue' is the perfect sobriquet, as the 10 players swing their brains out in a slinkwalkin', hipswayin', buttshakin' menu that's damn near concert length. And, boy, running through the tri-fold CD package, am I ever glad such product is turning the way it is, finally reflecting gatefold LP releases and all the glorious notes, photos and artwork. Thus, all in all, we have one hell of a package here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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