Review: Altered Five Blues Band – Cryin’ Mercy

Posted on: Monday, Jan 19, 2015


Altered Five Blues Band –  Cryin’ Mercy

(Omnivibe Records: OVR 0001)

The A.F.B.B. came into being in 2002 when part-time musicians Jeff Taylor; vocals, Jeff Schroedl; guitar, Mark Solveson; bass,  Scott Schroedl, drums, and Raymond Tevich; keyboards, got together to play; as Jeff Taylor recalled in an interview: I had taught piano at a music store, and a mutual friend said they needed a piano player. I auditioned for that and they asked, “By the way, do you sing?” I said, “Yeah, I sing a little bit.” They said, “Hey, why don’t you try a couple of tunes,” and it went from there.

Since then they have played at numerous venues in their home state of Wisconsin and are once again making Milwaukee famous, this time for rip roaring, driving blues. Although, this is their third album to date it is their first on the Omni Vibe label, their first two albums Bluesfield and Gotta Earn were released by the Minneapolis based label Cold Wind. Adding particular interest to this album is the fact that Tom Hambridge occupies the producer’s chair; his solidly rocking approach to the blues only adds fuel to the bristling and powerfully raw type of playing that is displayed by the A.F.B.B.

There are eleven numbers here for your delectation, which mix light and delicate soulful emotions with no nonsense down and dirty gritty twelve bar, muscle bound blues guitar work, if this was not enough then the driving and urging gravel, rust and glass shards vocal delivery of Jeff Taylor, which is definitely a suggestive mixture of B.B King and Howlin’ Wolf, will certainly raise more than eyebrows.

The opening number “Demon Woman,” is an immediate onslaught of prowling stinging and ringing guitar which is underpinned by a wailing and punching organ that is coaxed along by a thumping coalition of bass and drum. The Stax inspired rolling, heart pulling ballad “Find My Wings,” presents a melancholy slowburning organ and a solemn melodic guitar matching Jeff’s troubled vocals as tries to find his own salvation. Another slowburner is “Move House,” which finds that Jeff is romantically and intimately ‘homeless’ his pleading for female accommodation is accompanied by a sympathetically urging and equally desirous guitar and organ.

“Urgent Care,” utilises a mixture of funk filled guitar and organ riding over urging percussion work that is as raucous as a boy racer bombing along a country lane. “I Got You,” fuses a light, airy bubbling and bobbling organ with a compulsive martial New Orleans drumbeat that funkily struts it’s stuff in this tale of a paramours description of the possessions of  love of his life and more importantly, that he’s got her.

On the searing and scorching guitar led “Who’s Your Lover?” Jeff gets to display his howling vocals to great effect over a burning and wailing organ, on this driving tale of adulterous liaisons.



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