Label: Blue Heart Records & Highjon Records
Release Date: August 20, 2021
For the return of blues legend Johnny Tucker, HighJohn Records’ owner and Tucker’ s manager, Bob Auerbach, wanted a much bigger production to match the power of his mighty voice and exuberant personality. Tucker’ s acclaimed 2018 release, Seven Day Blues, was a back-to-basics spartan affair that once again brought notice to this iconic singer, songwriter, and blues originator. For this 2021 album, 75 And Alive, Auerbach recruited Los-Angeles’ guitar man Kid Ramos to build an all-star band with pianist Carl Sunny Leyland. The team brought in the rhythm section of John Bazz on electric and standup bass, drummer Jason Lozano, and saxophonist Ron Dziubla and harp player Bob Corritore. The dozen new tracks recorded live off the floor are an authentic set of West Coast jump, low down blues and funky soul, recorded on Johnny’s 75th birthday – October 17, 2020.
Bazz walks the doghouse bass while Ramos dishes out T-Bone lead guitar and Tucker plays the role of The Honey Dripper on the swinging party anthem opener “All Night Long, All Night Wrong.” Tucker gently whispers in his lover’ s ear on the pleading slow blues “There’ s A Time For Love,” with the horn lines adding emphasis to the schmaltz.
Corritore plays the foil to Tucker’ s vocals on the piano driven “If You Ever Love Me,” adding spice to the Fats Domino New Orleans styled R&B number. Lozano lays down the double shuffle for the Chicago Blues “Can’ t You See,” with Corritore and Ramos trading licks while Tucker howls. As producer Ramos selected the array of classic groove for
Tucker to vocally improvise over, so, it is no surprise he included the ballroom rhumba “ What’ s The Matter,” where he waxes poetic about his quest to trip the light fantastic with his lady love, and then begs her forgiveness on the slinky “Treat Me Good.”
Kid Ramos steps into the spotlight to pay tribute to Albert Collins on the flat tire shuffle “ Snowplow,” and to Earl Hooker on “Hookline,” delivering iconic guitar leads in the style of his heroes. Separating the two tunes, lively barrelhouse piano from Leyland drives the call and response boogie “What’ s On My Mind.” Ramos unleashes some greasy slide guitar and spars with Corritore on the Texas Blues “Dance Like I Should,” while Tucker dusts his broom. Ramos and Tucker pay homage to Buddy Guy on the playful “Have A Good Time Tonight,” delivering the blues like the Chicago’ s elder statesmen would. The set ends with the horn driven Memphis Soul number “Gotta Do It One Time,” a sweet finale on which everyone in the all-star lineup shines, and you can feel the joy in every word of Tucker’ s vocals.
Johnny Tucker dedicated the album, 75 And Alive, to his late wife, Georgia, as a lasting
monument from a man who’s been singing his heart out professionally for over 65
years. – Rick J Bowen
01 All Night Long, All Night Wrong
02 There’s A Time For Love
03 If You Ever Love Me
04 Can’t You See
05 What’s The Matter
06 Treat Me Good
08 What’s On My Mind
10 Dance Like I Should
11 Have A Good Time Tonight – Play Your Soul, Johnny
12 Gotta Do It One Time