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Monday, February 11, 2013

Raoul & The Big Time 2004 Cold Outside




Genre: Blues
Rate: 320 kbps CBR / 44100
Time: 00:44:20
Size: 101,39 MB

Canada

Moving rapidly to the forefront of the Canadian blues scene with his jump ‘n’ shake style, compelling way of making a lyric sizzle, and harmonica heroics, Raoul Bhaneja’s latest recording seems certain to sweeten the pot further. ‘Cold Outside’ includes the same Big Time personnel (Darren Gallen, Cheong Liu, and Tom Bona) as did its predecessor, ‘Big Time Blues’. Notably, keyboards have been further added in the persons of Graham Guest and Kevin Quain.

Sparkling contributions from special guests like Big Joe Maher, string wizard Junior Watson, and harpist Mark Hummel, are pleasant, but not totally unexpected surprises, as Raoul often gets invited to perform onstage during many of their shows at Toronto’s premier blues hangout, the Silver Dollar Room. Bhaneja is entirely tuned into these cats, and totally shares their love for the classic r&b sounds of such legends as Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, Joe Turner, and Roy Milton.

A couple more outings like ‘Cold Outside’, and Bhaneja will be inviting comparisons with Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats fame. Anyone digging that West Coast style will gravitate to ‘Cold Outside’ like a falling apple moving towards Earth. Raoul’s harp work brims with gusto, while his wry under-stated vocals are simply fetching.

Apart from the “down-in-the-alley” Walter Horton instrumental called “Easy”, and the jump blues classic “Loving Machine” which features Raoul and Big Joe trading “hip-to-the-tip” vocals, all other tracks are Bhaneja originals. There’s a couple more jumps (“Call Me Crazy”, “Can’t Help It”), but the mid to lesser-paced tempo items leave the most lasting impressions.

“Kiss Every Dollar Goodbye” laments that inability to keep a buck, while featuring sympathetically sparse accompaniment from John Showman’s Joe Venuti-influenced fiddle work. Makes one wonder why blues recordings don’t utilize that instrument more often? “Baby Don’t Stop” hails dance floor good times, with Gallen’s mesmerizing string work powering its rumba-flavored groove. The headline track is easily the most evocative, with bassist/producer Terry Wilkins’ contributing wordless background harmonies that are bleak and effective, while Gallen’s axe glimmers like frost-encrusted wind chimes. Include Raoul’s wistful voice and chunky harmonica, and the result is a slice of memorable slow blues. “That’s All I Got” also features Hummel on harmonica, another standout that crackles with fine tension.

Wilkins’ extensive jazz background also influenced “Living In Paradise”, (written by Raoul and Jake Langley of Jake and the Blue Midnights). It’s another intimate affair, as keyboardist Graham Guest provides masterful atmospherics, and it all conjures up images of smoke-filled cafes and intimate reveries, thanks to Bhaneja’s finely honed dramatic skills. “Come Back” is worth the price of admission--and not due solely due to Junior Watson’s brilliance---while “The Mercy Song” charms with New Orleans-style bonhomie.

In his alter ego, Raoul is a highly successful actor, with credits including significant roles in over twenty first-run movies, as well as performances in countless stage productions. He’s currently making his presence known on the Global TV network series ‘Train 48’, but ‘Cold Outside’ suggests that, in his creative corner of the world, Raoul Bhaneja might just derive ultimate inspiration from the backbeat of a blues groove. (This review is copyright © 2004 by Gary Tate, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com)



Tracklist:

01 - Can't Help It 03:08


02 - Otherside Of Town 04:19

03 - Kiss Every Dollar Goodbye 02:38


04 - Baby Don't Stop 03:53

05 - Easy 03:39

06 - Call Me Crazy 02:47

07 - Come Back 03:50

08 - Living In Paradise 04:12

09 - Loving Machine 02:48

10 - Cold Outside 04:07

11 - The Mercy Song 04:15

12 - You Got It All 04:44





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