No matter what Roomful of Blues chooses to do, it's always in a big way. The sounds boom out, Phil Pemberton forever sings in a fever, and them there horns just can't keep themselves still! Ah, but then there's Chris Vachon and his perambulating guitar (chicken-scratching here, burning there, sassy as ya please elsewhere), six-stringed device and hominid welded to one another as though lovers from The Naked Lunch. Like the Gil Elvgren-esque racy liner art, ROB's music is from another era, the high gloss side of the 50s jumping towards the 60s and not too worried about fidelities either, save that they scream with the grease and stank of authenticity beguiled.
And, hey!, the guitar ain't the only jumpin' axe here. Those horn cats take more than few solo fill-ins, brassy as you please, always on the dime, playin' to the nines, and maybe makin' time with your gal (gotta keep an eye on those musos!). I mean, listen to their take on Harris & Terry's Kill Me, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Everything's in place, hearts are broken, and the wimmens are swooning with the passion of it all. How can a workaday slob even begin to compete? I say buy the CD, but don't take your sweetie to the concert; you'll be walking home alone.
Pemberton and Vachon are indisputably the centerpieces of the ensemble, but the band is tight, tight, tight, and swings like the dickens behind them, Travis Colby's Hammond swirling all over the place. Especially in the instrumental Gate Walks to Board, they romp and cavort to beat the devil. On the vocal cuts, though, I can't say as I know how the hell Pemberton manages to get ever more overpowering each time out—the bastard has the lungs of any three men—but when he's wailing, you forget where you are. Thus, is Roomful the same powerhouse of old? Oh please! This disc will have you testifying, renewing your faith, and pounding the table with one hand while beckoning that slinky waitress in the corner with the other.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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