It's about damn time J.J. Cale got tributized, and Vocal Sessions is a very cool way to do so. The Zoho Roots label tends to favor heavysiders in the blues spectrum and cranks up this 15-cut disc with an initial half dozen from Swamp Cabbage, a trio importing vocalists J.J. Grey and Jimmy Hall for three tracks. The Cabbage gents like the slow and chunky approach, and their take on Money Talks growls like a blithe wolf maintaining its cool while taking no shit. They also light up Sensitive Kind in a near-psychedelic slo-burn croon that warns against romantic tomfoolery and looks to the preservation of females of an idyllic mind.
Rufus Huff, a more rock-steady ensemble, takes over on the immortal Cocaine with a delta glow that travels over a trifle to Trouble, while Crazy Mama is a Savoy Brown-ish angle a la Jack the Toad blooded up with a keening cow-catcher slide. The Dixie Tabernacle lightens things up in a righteously breezy Any Way the Wind Blows and Lies. The group is an offshoot of the much too neglected Kentucky Headhunters and expands the old band's vocal presence luminously. Did I say 'vocals'? Yes indeedy, and The Persuasions returned to the studio after a several year absence in order to participate in this gig, lending their five-part a capella magic. Should you harbor any curiosity why the Dead, Zappa, and other greats loved these cats, lay an ear to I'll Make Love to You Anytime and especially to Travelin' Light and thus gain wisdom.
Then it's back into the mangroves with Tim & Roddy Smith's Groove Gang mellowly raving up the bluegrass on Ride Me High before getting Flatts 'n Scruggsy by way of Sailcat on Louisiana Women. Pensive roots guitarist Greg Skaff nabs the last two cuts, catching Darryl Johnson to sing on the soulful Don't Wait, then grabbing Jimmy Hall to hit a reprise to Money Talks. Every cut of this entire disc, in fact, embodies the ease-it-down-the-road flavor of J.J. Cale even when things starts to crank, and there's little doubt the mellow master will be smiling ear to ear (and from the gin joints and speakeasies of bygone days) when he lays ear to this homage.
Now, if someone will please look across the aisle to the inimitable Hoyt Axton, and then later to Leon Russell, for similar aggrandizement? J.J. could use some midnight company out there in gator country.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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