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Monday, December 14, 2009

Blues Historian Review: Mike Zito, Pearl River

Mike Zito is an amazing guitar player who can not only sing, but has an amazing voice suited for blues and soul. Then add a very tight band, great songs, with good arraignments. Add Reese Wynans on keyboards. Have Cyril Neville write you a great song and sing with you, add a few more great musicians, get them all in a studio and mix it perfectly and you have Zito's latest release Pearl River.

This Electro Groove release was sent to me recently in the mail, and I have enjoyed listening to it as I have crisscrossed the state of Iowa. Zito knows what he is doing on guitar, and he is blessed with a great soulful voice. this CD is pretty much what you would expect from a contemporary blues band. Solid tunes, well rehearsed, and expertly mixed presentation of blues and soul. Only once was I shocked, and that happened at the beginning of Shoe Blues. It started out great, and for some reason I thought he was covering Robert Johnson's Walking Blues. Zito sings about waking up and looking for his shoes, and then Susan Cowsill, repeats the next verse, and I am thinking Oh-no! Not a duet of a classic Robert Johnson song! However, had I been listening closely I would have noticed that the lyric is different, and by the third line, I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that it was not the classic Johnson song. Needless to say the song rocked.

If I have one problem with Pearl River, is that it is too perfect. The solo's are perfect, the band is tight, and the vocals don't waver. Perhaps it is the old school in me, but I really like the live feeling of blues. I like to hear a guitar player going out on a limb, or a vocalists straining to hit a note. I know that the old chess recordings were made quickly because the Chess brothers didn't have the equipment, or the time to perfect the sound, but my personal quirk is the live sound.

This is a buy, go out get it and listen to it!

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