Review: Coco Montoya – I Want It All Back

Posted on: Monday, Mar 1, 2010


“I Want It All Back”

(Ruf Records – RUF 1153)

The latest solo release from Californian guitarist, Coco Montoya, may come as a bit of a shock to those fans used to his blistering guitar playing – as this album, his first for Ruf Records, sees co-producers Keb’ Mo’ and Jeff Paris – concentrate more on his vocals, and very fine they are too – on a set of mainly radio-friendly soul-tinged tunes, with few straight blues tracks. But don’t panic – his upside-down, right handed Stratocaster is still featured prominently, but perhaps a bit more restrained, than previous albums.

The man from Santa Monica, California, who learnt guitar under the wing of the legendary ‘Master of the Telecaster’, Albert Collins, and was a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for ten years – during which time, for a period, he traded licks with Walter Trout – is accompanied on “I Want It All Back” by a crack core band, with Keb’ Mo’ on rhythm guitar and co-producer Jeff Paris on keyboards, with an absolute top-notch rhythm section in Reggie McBride (bass) and Steve Ferrone (drums).

The opening take on The Penguins “Hey Senorita” has a nice rolling feel, with some tasteful, fluid guitar lines and solos, with the title cut, “I Want It Back” following – a soulful tune, written by his friend, David Steen. The 60s’ soul tune, “Forever”, recorded by The Marvelettes, is a standout, with Montoya’s warm vocal and Jeff Paris’s keyboards a joy on this.

The best three tracks for me run in sequence – another really soulful tune in “The One Who Really Loves You”, a Smokey Robinson song that was recorded by Mary Wells back in 1962, another great vocal from Coco Montoya and a great guitar solo; followed by really the only straight blues here, the standard “Fannie Mae”, with the lusty harmonica and sparkling piano of Rod and Honey Piazza helping out, with some tough guitar from Montoya; the swampy funk of “Don’t Go Makin’ Plans – co-written with Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere – is a treat, riding on the groove of Jeff Paris’s keyboards, and a little reminiscent of classic Average White Band.

Jackson Browne and Danny Kortchmar’s “Somebody Baby” is given a modern reading, with glorious vocals from Montoya and Keb’ Mo’, with some tasteful saxophone from Paulie Cerra and soaring, pure guitar from Montoya . . . a very nice way to end proceedings!


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