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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

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.