Take Me Back
Nelsen Adelard's previous outing was the aptly named Jack Of All Trades. In addition to writing the bulk of the material, he was responsible for vocals, harmonica, and piano. He's even more versatile this time out,
accounting for eight of the tracks on Take Me Back and adding trumpet to his instrumental arsenal for an collection even stronger than its worthy predecessor.
Judging from his own compositions, Adelard's a pretty happy guy. Take Me Back kicks off with the bouncy title track, a shuffle that sets the pace for a largely light-hearted romp. Fuelled by Adelard's growling harp
(here employed as an effective addition to the rhythm section along with a nicely restrained lead break), it leads into an equally cheerful Sugar Pie, an unabashedly heartfelt love song. Call On Me, with its
second-line percussion, shows Adelard's spent time absorbing the sounds of New Orleans, an aspect of his music further reinforced by his choice of covers, Clifton Chenier's Big Mamou, a slightly turgid Brickyard
Blues courtesy of Allen Toussaint, and a fine reading of the immortal St. James Infirmary.
Elsewhere there's the barrelhouse boogie of The Professor Is In, a nice nod to Fess, and the soulful, minor-key Blues All Night, which gives Adelard a chance to stretch out with some tasteful, searing lead guitar.
Mama Can I Play My Horn? flirts with Dixieland with its brassy accompaniment, while Back At JAX is Adelard's instrumental tribute to one of his favorite clubs, this one a hard-driving harmonica workout with
Adelard's Mississippi saxophone holding it's own quite nicely against it's bigger namesake. Things come to a close with a mostly-solo (just he and his harmonica, with a bit of background harmonies) Blues Got A Hold
On Me. It's a fine ending that shows Adelard, even in the simplest of circumstances, a gifted tunesmith.
Adelard is a superior vocalist with excellent phrasing and just the right amount of grit, and a fine songwriter with a sure and steady hand at arrangements.
All in all an excellent outing, this one's highly recommended!
In a day when many blues CDs make the listener think "... been there, done that,
In a day when many blues CDs make the listener think "... been there, done that, heard it before ...," it's refreshing to have an independent disc come out of nowhere that gives a nice kick in the pants to the blues genre.
Take Me Back is the third release from Southern California bandleader Nelsen Adelard. His first of three releases, Blues Got a Hold On Me, received a favorable review in Blues Bytes five years ago; it's obvious that Adelard has improved considerably since then.
Adelard is a strong blues vocalist, with a somewhat raspy but powerful voice. He's also a talented multi-instrumentalist, at times playing guitar, harmonica, piano and trumpet. While he's backed by a good, basic blues ensemble, Take Me Back is really Adelard's show from start to finish.
Take Me Back opens with Adelard blowing mean Chi-style harp on the mid-tempo title cut, later adding pleasant piano work to the mix while Steve Gabil fills in on guitar.
"Sugar Pie" starts with a tight, energetic horn intro building into a happy, upbeat catchy foot-tapper, with a solid sax solo from Mark Norris. For my money, this one's the highlight of the disc. It's Southern California jump-style blues at its best.
Adelard switches to piano for the New Orleans-style tune, "Call On Me," which could easily fit well into the Marcia Ball songbook. Like most of the 11 songs on Take Me Back, it's an Adelard original. Gabil throws in a tasteful guitar solo for good measure.
On one of the few covers, Adelard shows off his harp prowess on the Clifton Chenier swamp blues, "Big Mamou," on which Norris gets an extended sax solo.
It's boogie woogie time on "The Professor Is In," as Adelard pounds the 88s during a short (2:14) instrumental romp that also gives Norris another chance to stretch out on the sax. A subsequent smokin' instrumental, "Back at Jax," is an uptempo shuffle showcasing Adelard's harmonica playing.
The band slows the tempo as Adelard switches back to guitar for the mournful "Blues All Night," a Chicago-style number that recalls many beer-soaked nights in Windy City blues joints.
A song that's easy to sing along to, and will remain in your head for weeks to come, is the fine version of Allen Toussaint's "Brickyard Blues."
The disc closes with the acoustic number, "Blues Got a Hold On Me," with Adelard and background singer Dee Dee O'Malley pouring out their vocals over acoustic guitar and harmonica accompaniment.
Take Me Back really took me by surprise, quickly earning a cherished spot on the rotation of discs carried in my car for road trips. Great traveling music. Check it out!
For more info, check the Nelsen Adelard website.
--- Bill Mitchell
Take Me Back is a super follow up to Nelsen's last CD
Nelsen Adelard – Take me Back
Take Me Back is a super follow up to Nelsen’s last CD. I really liked the last one but this one is a leap ahead, maybe it’s Nelsen, the producer, the band or the studio, I can’t say what changed since his last CD but he sounds better than ever, just super quality blues. Nelsen wrote eight of the eleven songs on this disc and he did a fine job too.
This one starts off with the title track Take Me Back. This is the style of song I think of when I think of Nelsen’s music, it’s easy to get into, it’s like jump blues but it’s more than that, it’s smooooth. Sugar Pie sounds like a blast of blues from the past, this track has a big sound with lots of horns, you could imagine a 40s era big band orchestra playing while the singer belts out the tune, it’s classic stuff. Call On Me is a fun song done in classic New Orleans style, although written by Nelsen it would remind you of a Professor Longhair song, it just has that great piano bump that sounds like the real deal. Speaking of Louisiana I think my favorite on this disc is Big Mamou. Yes it’s a Clifton Chenier song but it doesn’t sound anything like Zydeco. Big Mamou is fun and infectious, if this song doesn’t make you want to dance then call the undertaker, it’s too good. It’s not only the good music which is right on target from the first harp note but I think Big Mamou is the best example of what I like in Nelsen’s singing, real soul with feeling that he does so well.
You get a couple of cooking instrumentals with this CD, The Professor Is In is definitely a piano based tune with an old time boogie woogie / jump blues feel, it also has a good dose of sax too, and that’s always a good deal.
Back At Jax is a harp based instrumental that hits me right, it gives you lots of good harp and a big dose of sax too. By the end you have a sax and harp duel and that should satisfy you too. That’s the details on about half of this disc, I think you will find other fine songs that you will like on the other half too. Lots of good styles and sounds both new and old on this one.
With eleven tracks on this CD I am sure some combination of them will be on your favorite list. Nelsen’s singing is right on the mark, classic in style with a lot of soul coming through, the harp, sax, guitar, piano and the rest just fit like a glove.
Chris Puyear – moblues.org