Al Basile occupies a couple of rungs on the ladder here at FAME (here and here) while going from strength to strength as a writer, poet, singer, cornetist, and teacher, but with At Home Next Door, he's outdone himself on a twofer release that just may be twomuch of a twogood thing for most anyone's twodelirious happy head. The blend of new and old here is letter perfect. The guy's always had a blue-eyed soul to him, with a good deal of ebony creeping up from the soles of his feet, but At Home doubles down on the trait. Disc 1 is a superbly remastered anthology hand-picked from the back catalogue, and, dudes and dudettes, the songs were already killer but this buff-up puts the next degree of richness into the entire affair. Sometimes that extra tweak makes all the difference.
Every single track on this 27-cut delectation features Duke Robillard who also produced the affair in between the thousand and one other great dates he's been lately conducting…and when I say 'lately', I mean 'forever'. The guy's gotta be one of the five hardest working bluescats around…and don't ask me who the other four are 'cause I suspect they're illusory. Mark Texeira's likewise a cat to pay close attention to because a good deal of his drumwork is to kill for. Start with the lines in The Streak and work out from there. Texeira's one of those rare skinspounders who turns the percussive set-up into a truly musical instrument whenever he gets the chance. Basile would be out of his mind to let this guy go…and I'm sure he has no such intent.
Then there's Al's cornet, which solos and fits in nicely with the rest of the horn ensemble, but the main light shines on his vocals, which call back the 50s and 60s when soul and pre-Brit-invasion rock and R&B were in their glory days, the era when Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, Johnny Otis, and many other familiars were hard at work. You'll even see where Don Fagen and Walter Becker picked up some of their influences via Basile's echoes, 'cause A Little Too Far exposes the root system, especially in Al 'n Duke's lines (in fact, the more I listen, the more I hear Fagen in Basile's voice). From start to finish, At Home Next Door is a groovin', sometimes funky (Miss Dissatisfied with it's irresistible step 'n stomp beat, among others—and, man, catch Duke's Mutated Skunk Baxter closing solo!), but always solid exposition of newly honed riffs on a steady old standard style undergoing its second renaissance.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles