Don't be thrown by the odd choice in cover photography: this ain't no Bahia/Brazilia gig, as Robin Banks is a saucy wench who's been quite well known for some time in Canada and then very well received in Jamaica as well, hence the summer shots and unbelievably blue waters of the oceanward back cover. Did I say 'saucy wench'? I did, and once you lay an ear to A Man is Just a Man, you'll know just what I mean and either be grinning from ear to ear or sputtering and muttering "What the dingdang hell?!?!":
A man is just a man
Your man is just a man but
Don't matter where you go, Billy, Bob, Brad, or Bo
I LOVE that! 'N yo, boyz, where was the last place we heard refrains like that? 'At's right: Ted Nugent and a lot of other male rock and rollers, so Robin's making sure the ladies get their shots in. If A Man is Just a Man doesn't become an object of affection for latterday women musicians and singers, then, girls, ya jes' ain't payin' attention! But, okay, wanna know what this disc is REALLY like? It's produced by Duke Robillard and features his band and attendees. Duke's always laying the top coat on anything he touches—even when 'top coat' means gritty and swingin', as in his many blues efforts—but this one is especially lush while clear as a bell (thank engineer Jack Gauthier and his extraordinary judiciousness for that; lord, how he makes those horns stand up yet not a decibel out of place).
Banks writes everything here, obviously a multi-threat as poet / singer / songsmith, and I'll tell you right off the bat my favorite cut: Crazy, a very James Montgomery-ish track that has all the marks of a standard. My Baby Loves Me is a North 40 version of Etta James at her slinkiest (and, boyz, it's iron jock time again: once you hear Banks' cooing sweet most-definitely-somethings in your audience-ear, well, you'll rise to the occasion, trust me). You Boogie Too Fast for Me is an Asylum Street Spankers type of gig, Bruce Bears switching from organ to piano for that up-city lounge gig enticing aerospace execs to sit down, have a drink, tap feet, and pine for the diva. The twangy A Place in the City brings up images of The Youngbloods (man, do I miss Jesse 'n the gents!) while the closer, Some Day Soon, is a boppy twirl-around bringing the curtain down in the manner of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Quite a potpourris, but not an inch of this is less than 100% pro and will catch you by surprise…no matter what you expect.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles