FAME Review: Phantom Blues Band - Inside Out
Phantom Blues Band - Inside Out

Inside Out

Phantom Blues Band

Vizztone Label Group

Available from Phantom Blues Band's online store.

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

I'm always interested when the name 'Tony Braunagel' comes up and have been since he hooked up with the founding Backstreet Crawler (later, after Koss' death, just 'Crawler') with Paul Kossoff (Free). That's when I found he'd been working with John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, and Jimmie Reed among others, gaining the root of that rock steady style of his, a mode that later found Eric Burdon, Rickie Lee Jones, Bette Midler, Bonnie Rait, and Taj Mahal as well as producers of television shows and films avid for more. Ah, but when working with Taj, he also formed this Phantom Blues Band gig along with Mike Finnegan/Finegan/Finnigan, Larry Fulcher, Joe Sublett, Darrell Leonard, and Johnny Lee Schell. If you recognize the rest of those cats, then you have a good idea what you're in store for with Inside Out.

I used the term 'rock steady' a moment ago, and that's the best central description for this CD. It's a bluesin', boogyin', soulful, rock steady effort, a breezy gumbo cauldron of goodtimes and finger snapping. Within it all, however, I can't help but feel that Larry Fulcher had the most powerful effect, putting the finishing touches on the rest of the band members' experiences with the gospely side of deep South blues (Larry, after all, a Texan, was singing in churches at age 5 and knows wherefrom he vocalizeth). One cut especially, So Far from Heaven, written by Fulcher and Sublett, is so drop dead deliciously Curtis Mayfieldy that one's legs grow weak just listening to it.

That cut, I aver, is the heart of this really tasty CD, a disc finding Mike Finnegan sonically at the apogee of his career, at times even sounding like Steve Winwood from the old Traffic days on organ. The entire thing comes together like a gift, and the rest of the band is a toothsome cake but Fulcher provided the icing. Hear that Heaven cut first, and you'll know exactly how to listen to this swingin', upbeat, shake that thang disc. You'll also know why the impeccable Mahal had to have these gentz, and why I say let's hope this isn't the only ensemble effort The Phantom Blues Band issues 'cause all these guys have worked all over the place and finally found their true sound, even from such origins as the obscure band Baby, Schell's fledgling gig.

Track List:

  • I Can't Stand It (Smokey McAllister)
  • A Good Time with the Blues (Schell / Goldberg / Musselwhite)
  • Boogah Man (Dunbar / Fulcher / Finnigan / Schell)
  • So Far from Heaven (Fulcher / Sublett)
  • Little Fernander (Dave Bartholomew)
  • Death Letter (Eddie J. House Jr.)
  • Where did my Monkey Go? (Darrell Leonard)
  • Change (Fulcher / Finnigan / Sublett / Braunagel / Leonard / Schell)
  • It's All Right (Johnny Lee Schell)
  • Goin' Home (Charlie Rich)
  • Boogie-Woogie Country Girl (Pomus / Ashby)
  • Shame, Shame (Jimmy McCracklin)
  • Stone Survivor (David Egan)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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