Times Have Changed
Blues remain for Ronnie Baker Brooks
The album title reflects so much more that the ten years that has gone by since the last Ronnie Baker Brooks recording. No-one can argue with the statement Times Have Changed the world is a fast-moving cauldron of change and uncertainty. Having listened the one certainty is Ronnie Baker Brooks blues is class.
Opening with Show Me that is full of soul that sets the juices going featuring Steve Cropper, and booming bass saxophone a promising start but without a feeling of urgency I want to hear more. The album has five self-penned tracks and a mix of covers. The Memphis shimmer is heard on the instrumental Twine Time, with Lonnie Brooks adding guitar with many of the same musicians and mics this is Stax Records sound captured for the here and now. It fizzes retro looking back trying to recapture when as the title says things have changed.
The title track does just that building up to a surprising inclusion of music of now. Opening with a traditional feel cool guitar with stinging licks, it encompasses Blues where the guitar loops around the lyrics with a percussive pull that allows the guitar to soar higher and higher. Then we have the difference rap! Courtesy of Al Kapone as not just the neighbourhood has changed, music has changed. What hasn’t changed is the working class blues of the chasm between rich and poor and the despair that being at the wrong end brings. The hip-hop beat adds another contemporary dimension, a part of another link in the chain of music that yearns change. Out of Memphis has the pull of history and the roots of the blues is strong. The title track is strong and the lynch-pin that holds the album together. As you re-listen again.
A funky soulful retro mood is shaped and moulded with Give Me Your Love (Love Song), Angie Stones voice is full of sultry warmth that pulls in the vocals from Brooks that are delivered with an almost hushed reverence over the horns. This Curtis Mayfield classic was the first song recorded and has a fluidity that sometimes the album as a whole on first listening lacks. For, me a tempo change after eight minutes would have added a flinty spark but now we have another slice of funk on Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants. Then the inclusion of Old Love, his Mother’s favourite song. We have a change of tempo with a feet tapping, horn churning number Wham Bam Thank You Sam. His vocals have a Robert Cray feel. The chorus is catchy full of energy as the album closes out with When I Was We. Another demonstration of Ronnie Baker Brooks vocals that cajoles and never plays second string to his guitar.
Times Have Changed, is an album that digs deep into the Memphis tradition produced by Steve Jordan, recorded at the Royal Studios with an ‘A’ listers roll call of musicians this album was always going to be class.
Like time, the album is slow to mature and takes a few spins before the facets really glint and shine. This is blues with layers of soulful funkiness delivered with style. The standout let’s do something different moment is definitely the title track showing how blues can be stretched and reformed to capture the music of now without losing its basic integrity.
Times Have Changed – Ronnie Baker Brooks – Mascot Label Group
EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
- Show Me
- Doing Too Much
- Twine Time
- Times Have Changed
- Long Story Short
- Give Me Your Love (Love Songs)
- Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants
- Old Love
- Come On Up
- Wham Bam Thank You Sam
- When I Was We