Review: Ron Sayer Jr. – Better Side

Posted on: Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012


Here is one of those little gems that comes along every now and then . . . a new name to me and the old saying ‘you can never judge a book by the cover’ certainly applies with Ron Sayer Jr. and “Better Side”. A guitar slinger pictured on the cd booklet with a rather nice Fender Telecaster and classy amp, add in the ‘Jr.’ bit, and he’s definitely American . . . only in this case he’s not . . . hailing from Norfolk!

The 12 tracks that make up “Better Side” are a delight, with ten Sayer originals and just two covers . . . although the music is firmly blues-based, the emphasis is on great grooves with helpings of funk, soul, rock and jazz present. Ron Sayer is a mighty fine player with lovely touch and tone and a more than serviceable vocalist, calling his style an amalgamation of some of his favourite players, such as BB King, Rory Gallagher and Danny Gatton and slightly-less obvious guys such as Tab Benoit, Tommy Emmanuel and Audley Freed.

He’s backed here by a fine group of musicians: Charlotte Joyce (backing vocals), Andy ‘Mojo’ Robinson (keyboards), Clive H Jones (bass) and Paul Wooden (drums), and together they are the perfect and sympathetic foil for Sayer’s fretwork and vocals and a pretty tight outfit. The opening “Bad Thing” gets things off to a flyer, a funky guitar line from Sayer and nice organ playing from Andy Robinson, together with Charlotte Joyce’s sultry backing vocal. Next up is “I Ain’t Leaving”, with this time Sayer’s guitar in Larry Carlton and Robben Ford jazzy territory . . . again with the song centred on a great groove.

The soulful “Don’t Make Me Stay” has a tougher edge to it, but again is beautifully performed by all concerned; Sayer and the band ‘funk it up’ on the driving “Manana”; and then comes probably the rockiest song here, “Right All The Time”, which has a certain ‘classic rock’ feel to it. The uptempo boogie of “Piece Of Me” has fine piano from Robinson, and incisive guitar solo from Sayer, and is pushed along by the unfussy rhythm section of Jones and Wooden.

Elsewhere “Your Pleasure, My Pain” is a heartfelt slow blues; “My Mother In Law” is a funky blues cover, with Charlotte Joyce sharing the vocal spotlight; “Little White Lies” is another stand out – a gritty and funky blues tune. Sayer and band tackle Tab Benoit’s “Baby Blue” as the album closer – the Louisiana guitarist’s tune given a faithful rendition here, and a fine end to a most enjoyable release, which I’ve enjoyed more than most this year.



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