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East Side SlimBy East Side Slim



Michael Burks – vocals and guitars
Wayne Sharp – organ and piano
Don Garrett – bass
Chuck “Popcorn” Louden – drums

Michael Burks and his band are well known to St. Louis blues fans. In fact, they are so well known here that Michael has gained a 2nd home, musically speaking, in the city. In a town that works and plays hard, Michael Burks is a hero due to his legendary several hours long sets. Several songs on this new CD break the 6 minute mark.

If you’re not familiar with the Michael Burks blues band, you will be soon. This is the Burks CD his longtime fans have been waiting for. It comes about as close to capturing the bands’ live energy as a studio CD is going to do. Run, don’t walk, RUN out and purchase this CD. You will not be disappointed.

1. Love Disease – Fans of rockin’ blues guitar will love this track. Michael’s playing is simply incendiary here! There’s nothing subtle about this track; it’s pure blues power.

2. Strange Feeling – This dials the power down a bit from the 1st track, riding a nice groove along. Don’t worry though, as there’s plenty of solo space left for Burks’ guitar.

3. Empty Promises – This is a slow, intense blues song, with Wayne’s B-3 work really setting the mood. The track allows Michael’s vocals to really shine. Sometimes it’s forgotten (due to his stellar guitar work) just how good a singer he is. He uses that deep, emotion-laden voice to great effect on this song.

4. Salty Tears – A contemporary mid-tempo blues tune. It has a nice bas of B-3 work, with Michael laying solo runs on top of that base. I like how Burks works the lyrics here, never hurrying them along.

5. No More Crying – We’ve got a hard shuffle going here. Very nice! This one could go on for 15 minutes live and you wouldn’t tire of it. The track isn’t fancy; it’s great, solid old-school electric blues. It just sounds so right!

6. Ashes in My Ashtray – A slow, anguished blues, a song of stolen love, with poor Michael playing the part of jilted lover. Listen to the emotion that comes through in his guitar playing. Michael makes the guitar cry, moan, scream, then he REALLY starts playing!

7. Don’t Waste My Time – A nice mid-tempo tune, and it heavily features Wayne’s B-3 organ again. Let the B-3 be free, baby! Don’t worry guitar fans, there’s plenty of Michael’s fiery work featured here as well. It’s all good.

8. Quiet Little Town – There’s nothing quiet about this track –it just plain rocks! We’ve even got some piano work going on. Burks’ guitar is in overdrive. This song just kills live; don’t you doubt it one bit. Just listening to this song will make you sweat.

9. Hard Come, Easy Go – A Tinsley Ellis tune. It’s a mid-tempo song running through a litany of how hard it can be to get ahead in life and how easily it can all be lost or taken away.

10. Icepick Through My Heart – Another slow blues. Burks’ voice is perfect for this type of slow, emotion-laden blues. You FEEL what he’s singing about. It also allows him to stretch out on guitar, building line and solos in intensity and depth of feeling. Michael is a master of that kind of guitar work.

11. Fire and Water – A contemporary rock-edged song. But as it’s an old “Free” tune (that’s as in the rock ‘n’ roll band Free), that’s not a surprise. Michael and the band give it more feeling than the original, but at the same time it retains the hard rockin’ vibe.

12. Changed Man – A great set-ending hard shuffle, loosely based on the “Dust My Broom” riff. Michael tears off one great guitar line after another. This is another one of his songs that could go on for ½ an hour, with a roomful of sweaty dancers shaking their rumps to every beat.

The Verdict?
No offense meant, but Alligator Records has finally done Michael Burks right. Recording him with his own road tested band should have occurred long ago. The interplay between the guys is obvious on every track, with each man adding something special to the mix. If life is fair at all (I know, it rarely is – so get over it!) this release should push Michael Burks and his band to the next level in the music world. This CD really does come close to capturing the live sound and feel of this great band. Buy it, see them live, tell your friends. Shoot, tell your enemies – you might end up being friends after turning them on to this fantastic album. 4.5 out of 5.0 on the Blues-O-Meter.

Lee 'East Side Slim' Howland
The STLBluesometer

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