By Sonny Boy Lee
Michael Burks' new CD, From the Inside Out, kicks off with a nice medium shuffle that Burks leads with soaring electric guitar. A tight rhythm section with Vernon Allgood on bass, Stuart Baer on Hammond organ and Lance Womack on drums provides a solid foundation for Burks' smooth vocals, fine traditional guitar and well thought out lyrics.
The title cut on track two, a blues in G minor, lifts liberally from Albert King's "I'll Play the Blues for You." Every blues fan will instantly recognize it. But since Mr. Burks was recently honored with The Blues Foundation Albert King Award, the resemblance to King's work is only fitting and understandable. That aside, "From the Inside Out" works on its own merit, as does another similar song, "Nothing Else to Do."
My favorite cut on the CD is "Little Did I Know," a classic slow blues in the way back down in the alley tradition. This is blues at its finest.
A vamping wah-wah guitar provides the flooring to "Lyin, Sneakin' and Cheatin'." Lately I have been hearing a little more wah guitar in new blues releases, and I think if a player knows how to use a wah-wah pedal, he or she should do it. And why not? Strut your stuff. It's still cool.
A mixture of B.B. King and Albert King influences the surface on the medium slow "Lonely Heart," and the guitar solos are very good.
In "Can You Feel It," Michael Burks and his crew take a descending rock progression (E-D-A7) popularized by a number of performers such as Hendrix and Clapton, and make it work again. Very effective.
For good old-fashioned blues testifying, you will get off on the medium slow "Too Hard to Please." The preacher is telling the congregation how it is. Play the blues!
The CD closes with an instrumental, "Jammin' at the Wheel." It is a fast shuffle with lots of guitar and is the kind of song that a lot of players like to start a gig with to loosen up and get in the groove.
All of the songs were written by Michael Burks and co-produced by him and fellow bandmate Stuart Baer. Baer also did the engineering and mixing at Cool Water Music in Little Rock, Arkansas. The CD is available on from Michael Burks' official web site.
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