East Side Slim
the Inside Out by Michael Burks
– Vent Records, 1999
As those of you in St. Louis likely already know,
Michael is in incredibly hard working blues guitarist/singer
from Arkansas. From the Inside Out was Michael’s
first CD and it was released on the now-defunct Vent
Records label. This CD is very difficult to come across,
but well worth the effort involved in locating a copy.
It captures Michael’s fire and soul better than
his 1st two Alligator releases (in my humble opinion.)
There were a lot of comparison of Michael to Albert
King, especially early in Michael’s career,
and you can hear those influences on From the Inside
Out. If an upcoming blues artist has to be compared
to someone, Albert King is great artist to be compared
1. Find Me a New Love – This kicks-off
the album in overdrive. It’s has a Texas shuffle
beat with prominent B3 organ and Michael blazing on
2. From the Inside Out – The
title track of the CD. A nice, moody, slow blues number,
with percolating B3.
3. Talk to Me Baby – Not the
Elmore James song of the same name. Back to an up
tempo song again with a hard shuffle beat. It has
very strong guitar work. You can envision the dancers
all getting up and moving to this song!
4. Little Did I Know – Bringing
the tempo back down, but there is a very intense mood/feel
to this track. The B3 rises and falls, building tension
throughout the song, with Michael punctuating the
proceedings with short bursts of notes. Close your
eyes tilt your head back and enjoy! The song ends
much too soon at just over 4:00.
5. Lyin’, Cheatin’ & Sneakin’ – Very similar to Tyrone Davis’
“Turning Point” musically. The song has
a nice funky groove and wah-wah rhythm guitar by Michael.
This is Michael’s version of the old “cheatin’
song”. He came home early from work one day
only to find….
6. Play Hard For My Money –
This is not one of the strongest tracks on the CD.
The vocals seem a bit subdued somehow. That being
said, Michael’s typically fearsome guitar work
7. Lonely Heart – Another one
of the slower, moodier tracks that Michael really
excels at. These types of songs allow his fine vocals
to take center stage. This track is reminiscent of
a B.B. King slow boiler, with loads of single note
fills on guitar.
8. Nothin’ Else to Do –
A mid-tempo track that is very much a showcase for
Michael’s guitar. You can hear the Albert King
influence very strongly on this track.
9. Can You Feel It – An incredible
slow blues tune with very prominent B3 work. This
track is still in his live show to this day, and it
is a show stopper. If you don’t “feel”
this track, there’s a hole in your soul! Like
many of the songs on this cd, it ends much too soon.
When performed live it can easily stretch out to 10
or 15 minutes in length.
10. Too Hard to Please – This
track kicks off right up in your face and never lets
up. It’s full of gritty, growling guitar work.
Michael pulls out all the stops on this track. Can
you smell his fingers burning?
11. Jammin’ at the Wheel –
A set ending instrumental jam track. Michael is tearing
up the fret board and the B3 gets some tasty solo
space as well.
You will hear many standard or familiar blues song
structures on this CD. Michael performs them all with
great intensity and fire, making this album a definite
keeper. Fans of B3 organ will also take a liking to
this CD. It’s like Albert King rose from the
grave at times, although Michael is definitely his
own man. Let’s go with a rating of 4.5 for From
the Inside Out.