Jimmy actually started drums at an early age and discovered the Beatles and other bands of that era. Soon after, he started playing guitar which opened a new musical world. Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Blues Breakers became the musical foundation for him as he started his first band, “The Silence” and then his power trio “Jax.” His guitar mentor, “Fast Freddie” Rapillo has been working with Jimmy for a number of years. After watching a Buddy Guy/Johnny Lang concert, Jimmy was inspired to form a professional band of seasoned musicians with diverse musical backgrounds and experience. Blue On Arrival features Gary Swan – keys, Jon Fowler – producer, Melvin Brannon – bass, David Daniel Diaz – drums.
Not being exactly new to Jimmy, having reviewed him before, I was hoping to see something more from him and glad to find out about this release. In the line-up he has Melvin Brannon Jr. on bass, and not to be overly biased but I go way back to the 80s with his playing. I’m pleased to find him on this title, as he does work with his share of artists, including Booker T Jones and Edgar Winter as well as his work with Dan Reed. It’s certainly a plus to find him here but as mentioned I am already familiar with Jimmy and like his speed of blues rock. That is the first huge plus for me in reviewing this. As for Jimmy himself he just seems to get better. I really do like this guy, and he’s getting listener supported radio airplay around the area.
The CD features five originals and four covers that all blend as if they belong together, so to begin with it plays well that way. It starts off with “Murder,” which instantly grabs you with a sizzling harp track before he starts wailing. Right away you feel the old soul of this young artist with a vengeance. This is your basic two-timer story which also features some mighty killer honkytonk piano including a solo. You just know right way these guys can play but not only that, they can feel. The bass solo is hypnotic and slinky and downright sublime, providing the ultimate breakdown like only Melvin can. And after that it’s ironic to follow with a title such as “Hit My Stride,” because that was already firmly established on the opener. But more time to shine is shown on this very boldly accessible track. I love it. More excellent keyboard work carries this very well. This is a very heavy tune with some great wah wah work that shows a serious funk side to the situation. The whole CD comes recommended just for this song alone, if that is any indication how good it and the band are. “Crossroad Blues” covers the job with a stripped back traditional version.
Things stay consistent on “Rock Me Down,” and only beg for what else is in store. This is another early one in the set I really enjoy. A slower groove kicks in on “Poison” and it happens at just the right time. This is all power and then some. It goes very well with the following cut, “I Can’t Stop,” which he pours his heart and soul out once again to prove himself in a blues rock fashion. And once again prove himself he does. This carries on with “Poor One,” as things get spine chilling. A bone crushing performance makes this another stand out track. The guitar work here is killer as well, but the vocals really nail what Jimmy is all about. The appeal is almost crooner, but really just a traditional blues thing backed perfectly by horns, giving a jazzy edge. It doesn’t seem to matter, original or covers, this band loses no steam in the interest department and they need to be exposed.
And then the mood effectively drops with a ballad in the shape of “Best I Could,” which is an exquisite tune with just the right horns applied to round it off with pure class. Man this is excellent. It is a well maintained groove that will not quit, and that is all there is to be said from my corner of the room. There is really no getting enough of this CD. I mean talk about talent waiting to be discovered. Blues rock can be tricky and I’ve learned even hard to define what blues in the first place, to be calling it anything. But here it has that something that you don’t go trying to without doing right. Some are rather quiet and good, others more outspoken performers. Jimmy falls somewhere in-between that special crack. It’s a fine place to be and I think will grow from here because there is a monster thing going on. I just hope it does, because I hope all artists out there doing anything should have the right tools to be heard and circulated as far and wide as possible, as anyone who’s reading that knows me, knows I do.
Closing with “Stuck In Glue” you might identify with what are covers or originals here or not, but the album seldom deviates if at all from the common thread of excellence it is chock full of. This is one band to look for in 2016 and beyond. Don’t miss them. Jimmy gains a big fan out of me.