FAME Review: Kay Kay and the Rays - The Best of Kay Kay and the Rays
Kay Kay and the Rays - The Best of Kay Kay and the Rays

The Best of
Kay Kay and the Rays

Catfood Records - CFR013

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The very first cut in this anthology, Lone Star Justice, says it all. In a blend of Booker T, down home dirty blues, rockin' soul, and Chicago nights, Kay Kay Greenwade comes sailing in with a spoken prelude that sets up her Etta James / Nina Simone attitude, vocals, and lyrics amid a slinky serpentine atmosphere grooving behind Dan Ferguson's Saturday night organ and Johnny Rawls' wailing guitar (and, hey, six-string freaks, there are a half-dozen different axeslingers on this disc!). Toss in Andy Roman's sassy sax and right-hand man Bob Trenchard's smoothly propulsive bass, and we got us a band, y'all. More to the point, Kay Kay's a big bad Texas Mama, and she's got a few things to say, never mind all that boisterous boogying and them way the hell cool lyrics.

No Mama's Boys gets into a ZZ Top-ish groove reminding me of Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Steve Lott this time cranking the unliving bejeezus out of his gee-tar as Kay Kay lets loose and sets the agenda, not a bit shy to let you know what's on her mind, every single inflection digging all the deeper into a primal eros. I don't know how I wasn't hipped up to this woman previously, but, goddamn it, she really has the fire, and her back-up unit is just primo. It's therefore on the order of a tragedy to find The Rays no longer together and Greenwade having suffered a stroke, making further work highly unlikely. But, tell me, ain't that the way it goes? The best of 'em never quite make it to where the hell we need 'em to be. Makes ya wanna punch a hole in a wall.

Kay Kay Greenwade is definitely one of a kind, possessing that special something putting her well ahead of the pack, blending an elevated vocal musicality with brasstacks emotionalism and a compassion to match the fire of her social indignations, her ain't-standin'for-it straightforward ways. Lord Save Me from L.A. is a dead-on and trenchant commentary on the vicious environment that is SoCal. Kay Kay spares nothing, nailing every social perversion like a high priestess, a temple oracle, a pulpit crusader warning church laity away from the devil's clutches, and, oh sweet Jesus, am I ever a member of THAT congregation!!! Living just outside L.A. proper, I've grit my teeth through every kind of Hell, and Greenwade sees it all even more clearly than I do.

But, all that to the side, this woman possesses a blue soul that shines through every note and word, rightly earning a place in the annals of great female blues vocalists. This anthology looks back on her achievements and, at a fest in Australia, the press called her and the band's performance a feat matched only by Dr. John and Solomon Burke. Now, who do you know who could put the heat on those two estimables like that? Not many, my friends, not many.

Track List:

  • Lone Star Justice (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • No Mama's Boys (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • Hey Big Boy (Trenchard / Greenwade / Eads / Pua)
  • Junk Blues (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • Don't Have to Tell Me (Bob Trenchard)
  • Enron Field (Trenchard / Greenwade / Lott)
  • Crossfire (Smedley / Wynans / Carter / Elssworth / Layton)
  • Stop the Killing (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • Big Bad Girl (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • Lord Save Me from L.A. (Trenchard / Greenwade / Eads)
  • Hold on to What You Got (Johnny Rawls)
  • Cheater (Trenchard / Greenwade)
  • Love Me Baby (Johnny Rawls)
  • Texas Justice - Billy's Story(Rawls / Trenchard)
  • There'll Come a Time (Smith / Record)

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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