Severn Records has a refined ear for the brand of blues which arose in the 50s and 60s, but Mike Morgan dips into the soul side whenever Randy McAllister and Lee McBee grab the microphone. Morgan provides a Texas twang when singing, but his true virtue is the dexterity pouring out when he hits solo spots on the guitar. The very first cut boasts great citations of a technique, fanning, that's not much employed any more, dense chordal riffing contrasting the lead lines (so jump into the hot-spot Okie Dokie Stomp instrumental if you want to hear non-stop soloing). And talk about a judicious use of the whammy bar!
What struck me right off was the rhythm guitarist, an impressive time keeper and colorist I rushed to catch the name of. Turns it it's none other than Mike tracking himself and a better choice couldn't have been made. Might be that things would wax a tad problematic live on that trick, though, unless he's as good at cloning as he is on that axe. Where All Night Long kicks things off with grit and driving verve (not to mention a great drumbeat), Where's the Love lightens the atmosphere appreciably, letting in gulf breezes and sunlight. Then there's the Robillard-ish The Birthday Song, a swinging self-celebratory ditty turning a 180 on the hardscrabble lyrical blues norm.
The ambiance of Stronger Every Day is of a stripped-down and open club date, over an hour's set of straight, honest, non-overdriven blues setting the style back into its transitional period, where white and black musicians were stretching the basic refrains into new configurations without leaping for the sky (Hendrix and Clapton would take care of that 'ere long). The acoustic guitar in How Much More Time reinforces that mode, blending folk into the mix with just a tetch of gospel. When the first solo jumps briefly in, you suddenly understand where you've heard it before: Delaney & Bonnie (and Eric!)...and who cops that riff any more? Ah, but wait'll the second solo, the lengthy one, cuts across the fields and afternoon skies. Yow!
Don't forget the organ either. Stefano Intellisano slides one in during the elongated I Cried for My Baby and spans the distance between Chicago and New Orleans, Mike's axe singing above it, pure pure pure blues. Funky Thang, on the other hand, is just that, a jiving instrumental layering and deepening as it progresses, Morgan once more his own perfect accompanist, bringing in a bit of Robben Ford and Les Dudek, not to mention the Skydog (Duane Allman) and even some Dom Troiano. Mike Morgan has an elastic compositional and playing hand, and, as solid as this is, it's obvious he's going to make a monster statement one day soon.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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