Sounding Rick albums have always offered something for everyone.
From the wall of guitar blistering the first bars of "The Bridge" you get the impression that Blabbermouth is a powerful musical experience. In fact, I was surprised by the way each of the 12 songs displays a progression of musical styles, from rock to funk, to jazz and even reggae. Where some artists allow themselves to be pigeonholed into a single category, Rick continually shows an eclectic nature that makes this album exciting.
The second track, "I See It" begins with sampled news clips pulled from today's fear-generating headlines before moving into a solid funk groove with the most powerful horns we've heard since Tower of Power! The song also features background vocals from top 10 soul diva Gwenn McCrae who like Tina Turner did in the 80's, has found a great vehicle to launch a comeback with Blabbermouth!
Next the listener is treated to the smooth 70's inspired "First of All" which again features outstanding background vocals this time of jazz great Kathy Lyons.
There are two reggae groove songs on Blabbermouth and "Say No" is a real treat of clean production (ala Steely Dan). It is a father's message to a kid on which holes to avoid in life's road. The horns and background vocals are a special treat on this cut.
Every Sounding Rick album displays a sense of humor, not taking himself too seriously. "Jack" is a funk experience about none other than the childhood character in "Jack and the Beanstalk". Rick's longtime musical partner and bassist Greg Roth ads his deep voice to the Fe Fi Fo Fum amongst a parade of horn kicks and Gwenn McCrae’s background vocals.
Ebb and flow are hallmarks of a great novel, movie or record and "Hurt" provides a nice release from the energy of the aforementioned, “Jack". This cut features haunting horns arranged by brass genius and multi-instrumentalist Michael Glenn along with a sax solo by Jim Andrews that will have you looking for a towel!
Let there be no mistake about it, Blabbermouth is a concept album with the theme being Rick's awareness of how the mainstream press has shoved fear into the minds of a happy society. "It's Alright" provides a remedy to the theme like taking a dip in the river; its hook will stay with you and cleanse your spirit.
The next track "Parking Lot" proves you can take the man out of the jazz but you can't take the jazz out of the man. With blistering drums, crazy horn lines and walking bass Rick explains what it's like to forget where you parked your car!
Living on the Gulf Coast, one sees snowbirds flocking from the cold northern states to the warm tropical climate each winter. "Grand Maybes" pays tribute to their army of colorful clothed retirees. It sounds like it could have been lifted from Todd Rundgren's "A Wizard a True Star" or the Beach Boys, "Pet Sounds" and is an aural treat.
"Gravity" is a powerhouse song that displays a wall of guitar with a Motown-like hook.
The second reggae song on Blabbermouth is the hauntingly beautiful "Let Down". Written about lost opportunity, missing love and pain, the song reminds me of Sting with its vocals and soprano sax.
The album finishes with tour-de-force sticking with the gospelesque "What Does GREEN mean?'. The first line, "One of these days I'm gonna go acoustic, one of these days I'm gonna ride my bicycle" says it all as Rick pokes fun at the wacky green-crazed political initiative. The song finishes with several false endings, overlapping solos and a party.
All in all, Blabbermouth is Sounding Rick's most eclectic release to date and his best. The shimmering production memorable songs this could be the soundtrack to the era we are living in. Mark Fyurin 2009