Review: Arthur Louis – Black Cat

Posted on: Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009

ARTHUR LOUIS

“Black Cat”

(Black Cat Records: BLACKCATCD002)

 Those with pretty long memories may remember Arthur Louis from way back in 1974, when he released a fine debut album, with Gene Chandler on vocals, Eric Clapton on no less than seven tracks, and his bass player in those days was an 18-year-old Mike Oldfield – spawning a hit single version of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” that your humble reviewer used to own – if I remember, on the Plum label.

 Thirty odd years down the line, the Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-raised singer/writer/guitarist has released a fine soulful blues album, with a reprise of some old tunes, together with a sprinkling of new ones – backed by a fine British cast, featuring notables such as Steve Simpson, Noel McCalla, Blair Cunningham, and two fine horn sections – one being the in-demand Kick Horns – Simon Clark, Roddy Lorimer and Tim Sanders.

 The 12 cuts on offer are all self-penned bar a dip back to the afore-mentioned “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, with its reggae-infused arrangement that Eric Clapton was so taken with that he recorded it himself; and the co-written with Keith Miller, “One Day I’m Gonna Wake Up” – with its summery soulful feel, with nice acoustic guitar and some funky keyboards.

 Arthur Louis possesses a lovely, relaxed sort of voice and his guitar work is sharp and to the point, no overlong flashy solos here. The title cut, “Black Cat” has a deep soul edge, again with his Jamaican roots present as it goes into a loping reggae beat – very nice indeed. “The uptempo “Rescue Me” has some impressive fluid guitar at the start, with the horns very prominent, and again rides on a funky, soul kind of groove.

 The band rock-out on “Fast Car” – some more fiery guitar here in the shape of a very fine solo; “If I Ever Needed You” is a ballad with aching vocal and guitar from Arthur Louis, and top backing vocals from Sonia Jones, Noel McCalla and Steve Simpson – one of the album highlights.

 “Birthday” brings to mind Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade Of Pale”, with its organ intro and features yet another top vocal performance from Arthur Louis and the backing vocalists. Proceedings come to an end with “Rose A London”, with a funky bluesy feel and lashings of more fine guitar and horn work – a fitting end to a most enjoyable release.

 GRAHAME RHODES

 www.arthurlouis.co.uk

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