Review: Andreas Arlt – All-Time Favorites

Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 6, 2011

“All-Time Favorites”
(CrossCut Records – CCD 11103)

The co-founder of leading German blues band, BB & The Blues Shacks, guitarist Andreas Arlt steps into the spotlight here, after 11 albums with the band, with his solo debut “All-Time Favorites” – produced by himself, it is an immaculately picked selection of 15 vintage rhythm and blues gems from the golden eras of the music – his superb guitar work, which never swamps the music however, is the dominant factor in front of a top-notch group of musicians perfectly suited to the choice of material.

Apart from Arlt on guitar, the line-up consists of Frank “Pepe” Peters (vocals), Andreas Sobczyk (piano & organ), Dani Gugolz (bass), Peter Muller (drums), and an absolutely terrific  horn section led by arranger Tom Muller (tenor & baritone saxophone), Martin Grunzweig (trombone) and Stefan Gossinger (trumpet). Andreas Arlt was brought up on the guitar work of his heroes such as Ronnie Earl, Anson Funderburgh, Jimmy Vaughan and more, and here he dials into earlier legends such as Freddie King, Albert Collins, Guitar Slim and more, to create a most joyous album.

Further endorsement of Arlt comes in generous sleeve notes from Chicago guitarist Dave Specter, an early admirer of his playing who has followed the flourishing career of Arlt and the band . . . as ever with a CrossCut release the whole package is of the highest quality, with a fine booklet, including also track-by-track notes, including guitars used, and both in English and German.

The music kicks off with a dynamite swinging T-Bone Walker tune, “Street Walkin’ Woman”, the horns are punchy and drive the song with Arlt’s snaky guitar lines . . . a wonderful start indeed! He ‘doffs the cap’ to another late blues legend in Guitar Slim on the relatively unknown “It Hurts To Love Someone”, that was originally cut way back in 1957 for Atco Records. The instrumental “High Low” is a showcase for the horns of Muller, Grunzweig and Gossinger, with Arlt taking a back seat on this jazzy treat, with some sterling piano from Andreas Sobczyk.

Earl Hooker’s “I Wonder Why (Will My Woman Be Home Tonight)” was covered by BB King, and the version here is firmly in his territory, with some sweet fills by Arlt and once again the horns on fine form, with smooth vocal performance from Frank Peters, who is indeed a fine singer. The fun, rocking “Shooty Booty” dates back to 1958, when recorded by Ivory Joe Hunter for Atlantic, with no less a legend than Kenny Burrell on guitar for the session. The soulful romp of “You’ve Got Bad Intentions” was made famous by Bobby “Blue” Bland, and featured Clarence Hollimon on the original.

Arlt and band take the pace down on the heartache and pain of “I Was Wrong! Played With Love”, recorded for Excello in Nashville by the late Roscoe Shelton . . . it’s a definite album highlight with Sobczyk’s Hammond organ, tasteful soloing from Andreas Arlt and deep soulful vocal from Peters . . . lovely! The Hank Ballard-penned “She’s The One” was recorded twice by the “Texas Cannonball” himself – Freddie King – for the King and Federal labels . . . the version here retaining the feel of the Federal ’45.

Elsewhere, curiously Arlt covers George ‘Harmonica’ Smith’s “I Want A Woman”, without a harmonica in sight, but it is still a damn fine swinging shuffle dominated by his guitar work;     the late, great Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson is one of Andreas Arlt’s major influences . . . here he has chosen Leroy Carr’s “In The Evening” to cover, delivered in a smoky, slow blues version, and recorded by Watson for King in 1962; the album closer is another instrumental in the form of Albert ‘The Iceman’ Collins “Sno-Cone Pt. 2” . . . a stonking guitar showcase from Arlt, with terrific organ again from Andreas Sobczyk, and driven by the ultra-tight rhythm section of Dani Gugolz and Peter Muller.

To sum up, a must for lovers of classic retro rhythm and blues, and a great album from one of Europe’s finest players in the company of fellow top musicians . . . highly recommended from me!


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