For something less traditional but no less killing, try Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band’s Bang That Bell. A post-Hendrix exercise in funky-blue wah-wah wailing, this one has more allusions to Prince and the Isley Brothers than Muddy and the Wolf. In the course of a single tune (“Another Bad Day”) he can blend jazzy, Wes Montgomery-styled octaves with over-the-top wah-wah work and metalesque speed picking. But in spite of all the virtuosic six-string technique, Taylor can also get up into some nasty real-deal shuffles and earthy funk, as he proves so convincingly on “It’s Later than You Think,” which features some brilliant harmonica playing by Sugar Blue, and on a super-funky updating of the Earl King classic “Trick Bag.” And he digs into a slow blues, “A Quitter Never Wins,” with fangs bared. The closer, “Even Trolls Love Rock & Roll,” is a wild fretboard scorcher featuring guest guitar slinger Eric Gales. A tremendous guitarist and soulful singer, Taylor is a major versatile talent on the crossover blues-rock circuit that includes the likes of Robert Cray, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
The U.S. release of Melvin Taylor's two early-'80s LPs by Evidence a decade later was a shock introduction to a blues guitarist who seemingly blazed out of nowhere – outside of Rosa's Lounge in Chicago, that is. "Blazed" is the right word, too, because Taylor is a total maximalist who unleashes torrents of notes to fill up every space. But he's so convincing a player that the concept of "blues guitar hero" might get a good name again, even with fans dead-tired of excess who never thought they'd think things like, "Man, can Melvin Taylor play the ever-loving (add the expletive superlative of your choice) out of the guitar" again. Taylor's first real-time release, Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band, is a pretty straightforward affair – basic trio with minimal overdubs, servicable vocals in an Albert King mode, and a mix of originals and very classic covers. The opening "Texas Flood" lets him rip on a slow blues, constantly changing up his playing with wah-wah blitzes as the real ace in his sonic hole.
Rendezvous With the Blues marks another step in the normalization of Melvin Taylor. With Lucky Peterson on keyboards, Taylor is much more the featured lead guitarist in a straight-band context that too often finds him fighting for room to move in the full arrangements. He takes a jazzy lead on the opening "Coming Home Baby," but that runs counter to the measured, mid-tempo groove that dominates the first three tracks and seems like a move to court the contemporary rock-blues audience. So does some of the material – no originals, with ZZ Top, Stephen Stills, and Carlos Santana's tribute to John Lee Hooker in the songwriter credits on one side and Charles Singleton and Prince for contemporary black funk/rock relevance on the other. Horns kick in to punctuate the slinky, clavinet-anchored funk on "I'm the Man Down There," but Taylor's solo gets cluttered up by a duel with Peterson (on guitar here). Taylor is better-served when he escapes the rock beat straitjacket on "Tribute to John Lee Hooker" – the Latin-tinged rhythms give his guitar more freedom to float and sting.
Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan will notice the title of this disc is that of a Vaughan song. Indeed, three selections from his songbook are covered here: "Too Sorry," "Telephone Song," and the title track. The impressive Melvin Taylor is an electric blues guitarist who will appeal to the fans of the legendary Texan for his skilled and precise playing along with his smooth and expressive vocals. Taylor definitely continues the Chicago blues tradition that begot Luther Allison, Buddy Guy, and Otis Rush. Taylor gives his version of Rush's "Right Place, Wrong Time" on this collection of nine covers. His lineup here is a trio – a reliable bass and drum rhythm section keeps up a steady bottom end, showcasing his ability to handle all vocals and guitar parts. Every track here is rife in the easy genius that marks a true master of the blues craft.
Allan Taylor is one of England's most-respected singer/songwriters. His songs have been covered by artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including Don Williams, Frankie Miller, Fairport Convention, Dick Gaughan, the McCalmans, the Fureys, the Clancy Brothers, and De Dannan. Folk Roots praised him for his "ability to crystallize a mood and evoke an era with the ease of a computer memory access, crafting perfect songs with dramatic changes in the spirit of Brecht, Bikel, and Brel."…
Chicago-based guitarist Melvin Taylor is a star in Europe, but it may take some time for U.S. audiences to catch on to just how phenomenally talented a bluesman he is. Part of the problem for Taylor may be his own natural eclecticism. He's equally adept playing jazz or blues, but in the last few years, he's forged a name for himself as a blues guitarist with a slew of releases for Evidence Music. Taylor may well be the most talented new guitarist to come along since Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Allan Taylor is one of England's most-respected singer/songwriters. His songs have been covered by artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including Don Williams, Frankie Miller, Fairport Convention, Dick Gaughan, the McCalmans, the Fureys, the Clancy Brothers, and De Dannan. Folk Roots praised him for his "ability to crystallize a mood and evoke an era with the ease of a computer memory access, crafting perfect songs with dramatic changes in the spirit of Brecht, Bikel, and Brel." The Oxford Book of Traditional Verse felt as strongly, writing that Taylor was "one of the most literate and sensitive of contemporary songwriters in terms of words and music and one who is capable of exploring more complex…