|NATURAL REMEDIES - BY AL HOLLIDAY
AL HOLLIDAY'S remedy is natural.
Brewed with soulful conviction, his latest mix not only goes down smooth, it lifts the spirit with a tasty dose of East-side blues, soul and R&B.
The East St. Louis sound -- especially piano and horns -- has always been a local badge of valor. In fact, for a city notorious for the largest race riot in American history (only the 1992 Rodney King debacle would top the city's 1917 labor strife), the East-side has unleashed a creative stew of music beyond compare. Miles Davis started there. Peetie Wheatstraw lived and died at a crossroads there. Professor Longhair actually staked the town before returning to New Orleans. Ike Turner moved there playing with his Kings of Rhythm. Not only would he discover Tina, but his southern connections brought Little Milton and Oliver Sain. Albert King held shop on the Illinois banks. And of course, Chuck Berry wandered across the Eads Bridge against family advice. Finding Sir John's Trio at the gritty Cosmopolitan Club, Chuck and Sir John (Johnnie Johnson) would -- as Berry put it -- "have them black folks kicking off their shoes to hillbilly music!"
Welcome to the club Al Holliday.
Or more accurately --- thanks for inviting us in.
NATURAL REMEDIES, Holliday's second release, shows no sign of a sophomore jinx. In fact, the mojo grooves stronger and better than ever. All 11 songs are homemade originals. Starting with the song 'Full Grown', the template is set. Holliday's gruff voice, pounding piano, and the East Side Rhythm Band's powerful horns set the pace. Add Josian Joyce's guitar with the sanctified vocals of Emily Wallace and Miss Molly Simms, and it's quickly apparent how good the CD will be.
It doesn't disappoint either. In fact, it's hard to pick standouts because the CD has such a natural flow. One minute you're intrigued by the sassy sweet 'Oliver Sain's 3 A.M. Soul Serenade'. The next thing you know, the title track starts off with "I eat more cornbread than you'll ever see." In either case though, the message comes across clear with the final line -- "There'll be no more darkness over me."
And that's exactly what propels NATURAL REMEDIES. The CD's hopeful and redeeming vibe is real. For example, the lovely ballad 'Right Thru Me' parallels how the Mississippi runs right between us and our neighbors, yet it's essential essence is binding, life affirming and good.
Most of the soulful rockers like 'Bring Your Troubles To The City' and 'Just Like That' are on the first half of the disc. But even the slower gems like 'The Times' (beautiful guitar and sax solos) and 'There Ain't But The One Way' (which segues over 7 minutes into a wonderful uptempo ending) are stunning.
My personal tendency is to compare new music with the sounds of previous artists. I did that with Al Holliday. You can hear Professor Longhair's stride, the positive vibe of Little Milton, the vocal prowess of Rondo (anybody remember Rondo's Blues Deluxe?), and the tight horn charts that both Oliver Sain and Albert King would approve of. But in the end, this is all Al Holliday and his band.
As of print time, Al Holliday will have already released a vinyl version of NATURAL REMEDIES at a kick-off show at Off Broadway. The 45 minutes of sweet, affirming sounds are well worth it. So is the positive energy. The band continues to grow a national audience, and don't be surprised if it quickly becomes international. To think that almost 100 years after the nasty East St. Louis riots Al Holliday would be pumping out such great music, is truly a cause for good spirits. Perhaps the recently departed Prince would have put it best.... It really is a 'sign of the times'..... Enjoy!!
~ Visit Al Holliday's official site ~