Back in the 1980s, Robert Cray was second only to Stevie Ray Vaughan at the forefront of Blues: The Next Generation.
While SRV was bringing his hotwired meld of Hendrix, Buddy Guy and Albert King to a whole new rock crowd, Cray took funky southern soul, à la OV Wright, spiked with killer blues guitar, à la Albert Collins, to a surprised but welcoming pop audience.
More than a quarter-century down the line from the hallowed era of Strong Persuader and its immediate predecessors (Bad Influence, False Accusations) and successors (Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, Midnight Stroll), Cray is firmly established as one of our greatest living bluesmen. He’s performed with BB, EC, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Chuck Berry and just about everybody else who matters.
Reunited with bassist Richard Cousins and keyboardist Jim Pugh from his band’s classic line-up, and now teamed up with producer Kevin Shirley (best-known for doing the biz for Joey Bones), he’s still bringing those mid-tempo, minor-key, cheatin’ songs for which he was always renowned – but this is the best batch for quite a while.
The band play their collective butt off and Cray’s voice is richer – and his guitar wirier and meaner – than ever. And among all the fine new original songs is a version of Bobby Parker’s Blues Get Off My Shoulder that’ll pierce your heart and stick to your ribs.