Thursday, July 26, 2012

Out Of The Box reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

Out Of The Box
Guitar Mikey And The Real Thing
Earwig Music Company
15 tracks/70:32

Earwig Music’s release of Michael “Guitar Mikey” McMillan’s “Out Of The Box” is a showcase of this artist’s many musical talents. Guitar Mikey, originally from Canada, has settled in Clarksdale, MS via Boston and Chicago. This CD features 15 tracks Mikey and co-writers Doug Carter and Peter Nunn. These songs all have a very solid blues base with some heading into funkiness and rock. Joining Mikey for this project is his fine band, The Real Thing, all awesome players, Billy Gibson blowing harp, guest guitarist Super Chikan and Bob Margolin and Nellie “Tiger” Travis adding her awesome vocals to the project. When the Hammerhorns and the Stingrays, plus the sax of Alphonso Sanders join in, we have all the elements in place for an outstanding blues recording.

The lead in track on “Out Of The Box”, “Back To You”, shows us Guitar Mikey’s many talents as he takes on the vocals, guitar, mandolin and the banjo. This tune is upbeat; rootsy as well as rocking and at the same time makes you listen to all the instruments involved. Mark Yacovone and Peter Nunn toss in solid organ playing while John Allouise thumps out a solid bass line. There is a lot going on in this first tune that gets you ready to listen to the next 14 tracks. “The Bigger Fool” is a great slow blues tune featuring guest guitarist Bob Margolin. Billy Gibson walks us into this tune with his strong blues harp playing. Mikey’s vocals are strong and edgy with somewhat of a Buddy Guy quality to them David Maxwell lays down some piano work that is a big plus for this tune. This is almost for sure my favorite song of the recording. Could it have something to do with the solid harmonica solo from Billy Gibson?

“Blues Head” is another true blues tune about a blues player out all night playing music etc. and going home to his lady. This can be a bad deal. Nellie “Tiger” Travis, on vocals, banters back and forth with Super Chikan about the blues head story. With Super Chikan’s guitar, A. Sander’s saxophone added to Mikey’s vocals we have a powerful music filled tune. Another stand out track is “It’s Going Down” which gives us some acoustic guitar playing plus Mikey playing bass and mandolin.

“Out Of The Box” lets us know what Guitar Mikey is all about, a multi talented blues man with a great blues band. These 15 songs, over 70 minutes of music, are really a mix of tunes that showcases the talent of all the musicians involve in this recording; this is all very enjoyable to me. Good luck to Guitar Mikey And TheReal Thing.

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