I hate the phrase “it’s a fun album.” Mainly because it’s ungrammatical (like this fragmented sentence). But Terry Hanck’s CD, Always IS a fun album! There is no new ground being broken here, but it is enjoyable from the beginning to the end. Hanck is a band leader, singer, songwriter and saxophonist. For this, his fifth album, Hanck enlisted Elvin Bishop on two cuts. Steve Berlin, Tracy Nelson and other notables contribute here and there, but Hanck’s main band doesn’t really need the help. I was greatly impressed by the traded-off guitar duties of Johnny “Cat” Sourbrand and Chris “Kid” Anderson. They both added tasty old-school, no frills playing that help capture Hanck’s not-so-modern sound. The CD kicks off with “Cupid Must Be Stupid,” the only song not written by Hanck. Elvin Bishop adds some restrained slide guitar. Together they set the tone of the CD which contains a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. Song two, “The First Time Around,” introduces us to Kid Anderson who deftly handles bass, rhythm guitar and lead guitar on this track. Song three is another uptempo (and humorous) number entitled “Good Good Rockin’”. Hanck’s old school ballad, “My Last Teardrop,” allows him to show off a bit of his musical influences. This cut if followed by a tunes entitled “Stingy” which gets us back to motivatin’! Again, super fretwork from Kid Anderson. Song six is a tune many of us can relate to; it’s maybe my favorite on the disc; and the ongoing asides are hilarious: “When I Get My Sh*t Together” (asterisk mine). The singer promises ALL sorts of good monetary things to his lady, band mates, etc. when he gets his sh*t together! Song seven, “Quicksand,” owes a lot to the Stones and J. Geils in my mind. It’s riff-driven and hooky and wonderful. The title track, “Always” harkens to the big band era, and as such, shows that Hanck isn’t just a boppin’ blues player. “Good Kind of Lovin’,” for me, was the weakest cut on the CD: not filler, just OK. Song ten “Live to Love” features Cat Sourbrand on guitar in a solo that nearly reaches outer space. I keep failing to mention Hanck’s playing, not because he’s no good. He’s a solid sax player who knows how long to solo, when to let the guitar sneak in and how to support the song, not turn it into a instrumental showcase. He’s a tasty player and no show off. Elvin Bishop reappears for song eleven--”Peace Of Mind” adding a great raunchy solo. The CD ends somewhat jarringly with a trip back to the 60s in a surf-meets-Batman theme tune called “Deep Fried Twinkies.” Part of Hanck’s charm is his quirkiness. Just when you think you can pigeonhole him, he flips on you!
I had hear Terry Hanck occasionally on XM’s Bluesville and always liked what I’d heard. This CD confirmed what I though all along--Terry Hanck is enjoyable, solid, and worth your interest.