Review: Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps – Come On Home

Posted on: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012


Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps – Come On Home

(Jesi-Lu Records: JESILU 10080)

Teresa has followed the age old path that which, many, many other musicians have done before and that is to move from  their comfort zone – Teresa’s being Houston, Texas, to  another musical paradise, in this case Los Angeles; a place that which at the best of times can be seen as somewhat  bewildering.  Ever feisty and undaunted  Teresa judiciously picked her band who consist of Teresa; piano and lead vocals, Billy Watts; guitars, Mike Finnigan; B3 organ, Terry Wilson; bass and guitar, Jim Christie; drums, Jerry Petersen; saxophones, Lee Thornberg; trombone and trumpet.

Of the twelve numbers here all but two are band originals and the long lingering tendrils of Texas are not lost on the aromas and flavours of the music. Teresa has retained the caustic edge to her voice, the West Coast has not diminished her fury and power, strangely, the effect has been to anglicise her sound attaining a coalescence of a strident Maggie Bell and a raunchy Bonnie Tyler, rather than give way to the almost formulaic West Coast sound.

A fine example is the almost Motown “She’s Got Away With Men,” which is full of pumping horns and pumping vocals, a true toe tapper. Whilst “Voodoo Doll,” has a haunting, slickly lingering accordion thread which is joined by a bagpipe sounding guitar lead, all the while Teresa’s rasping enticing vocals is entwining your senses.

The gospel inspired “Carry That Burden,” is a hymn-like slowburner that showcases Teresa’s richly sensitive voice. “I Can Do Better,” is a showtime number in the same vein as “Nutbush City Limits,” full of brave boasting brass and razor running slide. The funking second line strut of “All I Wanna Do Is Dance,” is a fun limb jerking knee slapper, full of audacious brass, plonking keyboards and sinuous guitar picking also, in the same territory is the guitar burning “Come Home to Me”.

A very fine rendition of the Etta James / Henry Fuqua “If I Can’t Have You,” is delivered with an audacious reverence that effortlessly hits the spot! A very fine album indeed!


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