28 October 2016

#560 :: LIVE Blues Recording :: Robert Cray Band - 4 Nights of 40 Years Live

The Blues Room #560
Wednesday 5 October 2016
9pm-10pm, FreeFM89.0, Hamilton, NZ.

In this episode of LRW (LIVE Recording Wednesday) we feature the legendary Robert Cray Band. Over the past four decades, singer, guitarist and songwriter Robert Cray has entertained millions across the globe with his brand of rocking rootsy blues, soul-filled ballads and timeless R&B.

Now you experience this too from the comfort of your armchair (or mobile phone) through the album 4 Nights of 40 Years Live. Recorded over four nights at four different venues in Los Angeles, the album showcases the music that spans Cray’s four-decade career. The LP features Cray’s longtime bassist Richard Cousins, keyboardist Dover Weinberg (who was in Cray's first band) and drummer Les Falconer (O'Jays, Keb 'Mo), as well as vocalist Kim Wilson, harmonica player Lee Oskar, tenor saxophonist Trevor Lawrence, trumpeter Steve Madaio and saxophonist Tom Scott. Cray grew up listening to the gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland's soul, Jimi Hendrix's rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds.

His group went on to win five Grammy Awards, sell millions of records and sell out concert halls, festivals and large arenas around the world.

Four years ago, Cray was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. 

The first disc is billed as the “Main Feature.” Recorded last December at several L.A. rehearsal halls and venues, Cray’s current line up of bassist Richard Cousins, drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg are augmented by saxophonist Trevor Lawrence and trumpeter Steve Madio of Paul Butterfiedl and Stevie Wonder fame. Producer Steve Jordan adds percussion to give the band a full R&B flavor with extra bottom. From the opening track “I Shiver” it’s apparent that both Robert’s voice and guitar work are still as soulful as his fans have come to expect. Guest vocalist Kim Wilson turns in a fine performance on “Wrap It Up,” which was a huge hit for the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1980s. However, the band stays closer to the 1968 Sam and Dave original, right down to the horn section. Lee Oskar also sits in on “Sitting on Top of the World.”

Disc 2 is the bonus disc and includes performances from the Dutch television show “Countdown” from 1987, and the Robert Cray Band’s set at the 1982 San Francisco Blues Festival. The band was touring behind the Strong Persuader release and this show contains music from that period. Peter Boe on keys and drummer David Olson were the rhythm section for this outing, with Cousins on bass, Some of the highlights are “Guess I Showed Her,” “Right Next Door,” “Smoking Gun” and “Still Around.” The 1982 tracks feature Warren Rand on alto and Mike Vannice on tenor and organ. “Too Many Cooks” and “T-Bone Shuffle” from the festival are great examples of what a 28-year-old Robert Cray could do with a Stratocaster even at that early age.

The DVD is a treat for any Robert Cray fan. There is lots of well put together biographical information as well as footage from the 1982 and 1987 shows interspersed throughout the disc, showing the band members discussing the trying times early in their careers. There are interviews with a lot of great musicians, including Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Jimmie Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton. Of particular interest is producer Steve Jordan discussing how Keith Richards introduced him Robert Cray.

All in all 4 Nights of 40 Years is one giant Robert Cray love fest. In addition to the 3 discs there is a full color booklet with some great photos and even more information about Cray’s illustrious career. The package is a fun retrospective of one of contemporary blues’ most beloved artists and is a must own for all Robert Cray fans.

1. Lloyd Speigel - I Don't Need No Doctor
2. Robert Cray Band - I Shiver
3. Robert Cray Band - I'll Always Remember You
4. Robert Cray Band - Poor Johnny
5. Robert Cray Band - Won't Be Coming Home
6. Robert Cray Band - Your Good Thing Is About To End
7. Robert Cray Band - Sittin' On Top Of The World
8. Robert Cray Band - Bad Influence
9. Robert Cray Band - Right Next Door (Because Of Me)

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