Mike Zito is Live From The Top again playing the Blues

Mike Zito needs no introduction here…there are quite a few reviews of his past endeavours on Bluesdoodles via the search facility so let’s move onto the latest release on his own Gulf Coast records label.

This is a re-release of a live concert he did in 2010 at the Blues From The Top Festival; hence the title Live From The Top. Now any performance by this most accomplished guitarist, composer, producer and singer is worthy of attention but this one has the additional attraction of guest spots from the wonderful guitars of Ana Popovic and Nick Moss, the harp maestro Curtis Salgado and the lovely vocals of Teresa James. The formidable rhythm section of John Morris and Rob Lee and the ‘Soul Doctor’, Jimmy Carpenter, complete the lineup. (All of these artists also appear elsewhere on this site.)

I won’t dissect every track: after all, this is Mike Zito and his guitar prowess is obvious from the slide intro and solo on opener Natural Born Lover, and it continues through every one of the baker’s dozen tracks. A formidable rhythm section and the sax appeal of Jimmy Carpenter makes sure the whole thing is a blast from start to finish. There are, inevitably, highlights…The Funky goodness of Big Mouth, the purity of  Shoes Blues as he’s joined on vocals by the lovely Teresa James. Nick Moss brings an added dimension to the guitars on 19 Years Old as the two fret kings spar beautifully across the whole sparkling eight minutes while Curtis interjects with some class harp work. 

Sugar Sweet is another funky blues song that, with the delectable Ana Popovic bringing her style and touch to the table makes it that little bit sweeter…her wah’d solo is superb too. (Being a red-blooded make, is it politically incorrect of me to imagine the cover of Unconditional whenever I hear her?) Now for over nine minutes of the classic Hey Joe…the Hendrix and Purple versions have a unique approach to the Tim Rose version although the true author is shrouded in mystery. Regardless of the source of the original, Mike makes it slightly Hendrixy but with Jimmy’s sax adding colour. The beauty of this one is the solo that Mike delivers that is of his own brilliant invention as he keeps the melody but adds in his own personality and flourishes…a more than worthwhile addition to the number of versions of this song I have. The album closes with another classic as Ice Cream Man rocks the set to a fitting ending…I could listen to this man play slide all day.

This is a high-quality live album from a performance as well as a recording standpoint. Chock full of blues guitar of such eminence that it will never grow old; similarly, some of the songs may be familiar but they get a refresh on the stage in the hands of Mr Zito, his superb band as well as the guests.

Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous – If you love electric blues played with passion…buy it!

Track listing:

  1. Natural Born Lover
  2. Big Mouth
  3. One Step At A Time
  4. Shoes Blues
  5. 19 Years Old
  6. Pearl River
  7. Dead Of Night
  8. C’mon Baby
  9. Sugar Sweet
  10. Superman
  11. Last Night
  12. Hey Joe
  13. Ice Cream Man

Musicians:

Mike Zito – Guitar & Vocals

John Morris – Bass

Rob Lee – Drums

Jimmy Carpenter – Tenor Sax

Teresa James – Vocals (4)

Nick Moss – Guitar (5)

Ana Popovic – Guitar (9)

Curtis Salgado – Harmonica (5)

Recorded at Smokin’ Mo’s in Winter Park, Colorado during the Blues From the Top Festival on 25th and 26th June 2010.

Mike Zito is Live From The Top again playing the Blues

(The iTunes run on track is more Zito…his Chuck Berry tribute is also well worth a listen (apart from the damnable Ding-a-Ling: but that’s Chuck’s fault!))

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