Big Al & the Heavyweight's mix of blues and New Orleans rumba-boogie will please those looking for a blast of Crescent City-flavored, good-time party music. Bandleader Big Al Lauro has been at this gig since 1992, and during that time he's built a solid fan base that includes Dan Aykroyd and chef Emeril Lagasse. Aykroyd plays Big Al tunes on his syndicated radio show and has featured the band numerous times, while Lagasse periodically uses the Heavyweights as his television show's house band.
As expected, the group's latest recording "Late Night Gumbo party" gives listeners a good dose of drinking and dancing tunes with "Hey,Hey Nanette", "Walk On" "Real Good Time" while title track, "Late Night Gumbo Party" features a Zydeco groove straight from the bayou. The Heavyweights also show us their versatility with the slow grinding "I Should have Loved You" and a ballad reminiscent of a Memphis Stax recording on, "Love Take Your Time". Blues-rock fans will enjoy the rollicking "You Own Me" "Why Must I Cry" features dynamic guitarist vocalist, Tim Wagoner displaying some fine Delta dobro skills. The humorously laced "Love Recall" has producer, Fred James playing some Muddy Water's felt slide guitar.
There's fine singing and harmonica playing throughout and Heavyweights guest star, Billy Earheart of the Amazing Rhythm Aces adds appropriate accordion, piano and organ to lend a bayou dance hall touch. Just like good Gumbo, there's a little taste of something for everyone.
If you like your basic urban blues served with jambalaya and crawfish pie, this is for you. Big Al & the Heavyweights is known for the New Orleans flavor of its backbeat blues. "Late Night Gumbo Party" is their latest, with Tim Wagoner on guitar, dobro, and vocals, Harmonica Red, harmonica and vocals, Calvin Johnson, bass and Big Al Lauro on drums and vocals. All 12 tunes are originals by Wagoner and Lauro.
The first tine, "Hey, Hey Nanette" lets you know what you're in for right away - a jumpin' Zydeco number with Billy Earheart on cajun accordion and a joyful little gem of a guitar solo by Tim. The title tune is more gumbo-fied funk reminiscent of the feel of Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken". A humerous story about partying a little too hearty is "Real Good Time" with a laid-back rock beat. "I Should Have Loved You" is a brooding confessional to lost love. "You Own Me" is set to a catchy riff shared by guitar and bass. The last 2 songs are strictly acoustic, and are my favorites. "Why Must I Cry" is catchy and emotionally deep, with dobro, bass, harp, and tamborine, played by Tom "the Hitman" Cerone. (Eric Clapton meets the Sub-Dudes.) Another good ol' good one from Big Al. ~ Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society