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SUGARAY RAYFORD

DANGEROUS

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Delta Groove (0250161)

A new name to many perhaps but some may well remember Sugaray as a featured vocalist on The Mannish Boys recent Double Dynamite album (0250153), also on Delta Groove.

Clearly his talent and big-voiced, gospel-inflected blues singing convinced the label that he was ready for his own album, and here it is - 14 whompin' and stompin' modern blues numbers just as we like ‘em.

With guest contributions including various leading harmonica players (Kim Wilson, Big Pete, Sugar Ray Norcia), hot guitarists (Franck Goldwasser, Monster Mike Welch, Kid Andersen) and a top cast of rhythm section players and horn sections, it is no surprise that the whole album is musically bang-on-the-money from start to finish, with loads of great solos and riffs, tightly controlled and delivered without an ounce of fat on them.

But it is the choice of songs and Sugaray's command of centre stage that impresses most of all. Mixing well chosen covers from the likes of Junior Parker, Pee Wee Crayton, Son House and Clarence ‘Gatemouth' Brown with strong originals with excellent lyrics, such as on Need A Little More Time (sample lyric: I'll be telling St Peter at the Pearly Gates/I have unfinished business so can't this wait?), every number has something worthy of attention.

The track I have on repeat more than anything I've heard in awhile is another original, I Might Do Somethin' Crazy. On this, the band hitting a groove that the Howlin' Wolf Band in its pomp would have been proud of. While the band propel relentlessly onwards, the lead guitar shoots out lightning' bolt blues licks while Sugarary lays down a commanding vocal on a simply fabulous song. Elsewhere, In The Dark is a beefed-up soul blues track similar to the superb sides Little Milton used to cut for Stax in the 1970s. And Keep Her At Home is a hard-to-resist harp-driven toe-tapping boogie delight that makes me want to take Tom Waits advice and take off my skin and dance around in my bones. 

Mark my words, we'll be hearing a lot more from Sugaray!

Review Date: October 2013

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