Sterling Ball, John Ferraro And Jim Cox - The Mutual Admiration... album review

Steve Vai and Albert Lee join the R&B jam

Cover art for Sterling Ball, John Ferraro And Jim Cox - The Mutual Admiration. Society

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Guitar manufacturer Sterling Ball doesn’t let his contact book go to waste on this easygoing, enjoyable busman’s holiday. The album is primarily an excuse for him to play guitar in a barroom R&B trio with keyboard player Jim Cox and drummer John Ferraro, but guest guitarists take things up a notch. Steve Vai’s happy, relaxed commitment to a favourite from his childhood, Jimmy Gilmer And The Fireballs’ 1963 R&B No.1 Sugar Shack, is one low-key delight, Cox’s urbane Hammond organ solo on Baby, Please Don’t Go and Albert Lee’s picking on sultry country stroll Cryin’ Time are two more. A wide-open covers policy also ranges from the hayseed kick of Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee to The Jacksons’ blissful I Want You Back.

For all the occasional stardust on the record, the core trio never get ideas above their station. This is unassuming, amiable honky-tonk music for a slow Saturday night.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).