The Robert Cray Band: Cookin’ in Mobile

RIYL: Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Freddie King

In the 1980s, when rock music took a slick turn and anyone playing the blues was kind of poo pooed, several artists carried the torch until the rest of the music world woke up from their hairspray-induced coma and rediscovered the blues. The two most prominent were Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray. Cray’s status is often overshadowed by the flashier Vaughan, but his place in the annals of blues rock is just as important as the deceased guitar god from Texas. The Robert Cray Band has continued to put out solid, plucky albums (18 so far) since their debut in 1980, while still dazzling audiences with their phenomenal live concerts. That expertise of the Robert Cray Band is on full display throughout Cookin’ in Mobile, this new CD (a DVD of the same concert is also available).

Recorded earlier this year at the historic Saenger Theater in Mobile, Alabama, Cray and his solid backing band of Jim Pugh on keyboards, Richard Cousins on bass and Tony Braunagel on drums, deliver a tight set of songs that rock the house right from the get go with the opening scorcher “Our Last Time.” Classic hits like “Right Next Door” and Cray’s signature song, “Smoking Gun,” are opened up for extended jamming between the musicians. The latter clocks in at over seven minutes as Cray decides to school his audience on what blues rock guitar sounds like. Elsewhere throughout the album, Pugh takes the spotlight, in particularly on “One in the Middle,” which has a killer organ solo by Cray’s longtime sideman.

While the album may appear to look short with just 12 songs on it, in actuality, only two of them clock in at under five minutes. What you get on Cookin’ in Mobile is a real concert experience, with the band giving the songs new life from their studio counterparts. You may not be able to see each pained expression Cray gives when making his Fender sing, but you can feel the passion from his playing on every track. If you’ve never had the opportunity to catch the Robert Cray Band in concert, Cookin’ in Mobile is a fine place to start. (Vanguard Records 2010)

Robert Cray MySpace Page
Purchase Cookin’ in Mobile from Amazon


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