MIKE SANCHEZ FEATURING ALBERT LEE
SO MANY ROUTES
Help Me Find My Way, I Don’t Stand A Chance, Ain’t Gonna Let Nothing, Your Mama’s Got A Crush On Me, Messed With An Angel, Glad All Over, Modern Don Juan, I’m Waiting For You, Modern Romance, I Got Love If You Want It, I’m Moving On, When Something’s Gone Wrong, Nothing Else To Say, Bertha Lou
The albums of Mike Sanchez, both as lead vocalist with the Big Town Playboys and, since 2000, as a solo artist have always been big-sellers here at Red Lick. Mike’s larger-than-life rockin’ delivery of a vintage R&B and blues sound has always hit the spot, whether covering classic material or presenting his own ‘in the tradition’ material.
This new CD is an ever-so-slight departure, presenting as it does mostly original material that Mike has written and accumulated over the years but chosen not to include on previous albums with his regular band. He did this as he did not think the songs were fully suited to the pounding piano/honking saxophone sound that he and his band has been most closely associated with to date.
Mostly recorded over a few sessions some ten years ago, Mike has only recently gotten around to finishing off the post-production and overdubs necessary to enhance the basic tracks as recorded by a stripped-back four piece band. But although the number of band members and range of instrumentation is less than we have become accustomed to on a Mike Sanchez album, the sound is full-bodied and packs a punch at each and every turn. This is no doubt helped by Mike bringing in an old buddy and bona fide legend, Albert Lee, to manage the band’s guitar duties. Needless to say, this he does thrillingly and (seemingly) effortlessly, throwing in scintillating countrified rockabilly solos and licks throughout.
For all of Albert’s impressive playing, however, this remains very much Mike’s album. It won’t surprise anyone to know that the vocals are very much ‘on the money’ at all times but the song-writing and broader range of musical palette on offer may. Eight of the fourteen songs included are Sanchez originals and they are pretty much all great - ranging from fast paced greasy R&B boppers (Modern Romance) and jaunty rockabilly toe-tappers (When Something's Gone Wrong) to reflective ballads (Messed With An Angel) and (tasteful) guitar-driven rock (Nothing Else To Say).
And the covers are enjoyable too, including versions of Slim Harpo’s Got Love If You Want It and Hank Snow's I'm Movin' On. Perhaps the best cover version though is the sleazy groove on the closing Bertha Lou, a particular highlight of the album and a great way to sign off.
So not a typical Mike Sanchez album but a splendid addition to his impressive catalogue. Get it now!
Review Date: June 2015