Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Big Payback Recorded Live reviewed by Rick Davis

The Big Payback Recorded Live
Big James and The Chicago Playboys
Blind Pig Records
10 Tracks

The Chicago Playboys began as the back-up band for Chicago blues and soul singer Little Johnny Christian.  Big James Montgomery and Charlie Kimble first teamed up around 1990 and joined Johnny Christian throughout the early 1990s. Before joining Christian, Big James worked with Little Milton and Albert King. After Johnny Christian passed in 1993, they continued to keep the band together and went on to back legends like Phil and Buddy Guy, Nelle "Tiger" Travis, Eric Clapton, and Otis Rush. When they take the stage they explode with funk and Chicago style blues.

Their latest CD The Big Payback Recorded Live is a collection of music recorded live at the legendary Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in Paris on November, 2010. Big James and the Chicago Playboys are led by trombonist and vocalist Big James Montgomery, Charles Pryor on trumpet and flugelhorn, Joe Blocker on keyboards, Mike Wheeler on guitar, Larry Williams on bass, Cleo Cole on drums, and The Chicago Playboys on backup vocals. They start the show with the original Montgomery tune "The Blues Will Never Die," delivering all the heart and soul you will ever hear in a live performance! It is understandable why they have been compared to the James Brown band as they perform Brown's funky hit, title track "Big Payback." They continue with another original tune they frequently play, "Coldest Man I Ever Knew." The Wilson/Barker/Davis R&B classic "Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone," done by the legendary Johnny Taylor, is superbly performed by the entire band. This live show also includes the tunes from the immensely talented Chicago blues guitarist Magic Sam "All Your Love" and "That's Why I'm Crying."  Next on the set list is the Eugene Williams tune "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You" made popular by Otis Clay and Bob Seger. Another song covered live by Big James and the Chicago Playboys is "I'll Stay" written by Clinton/Hazel/Cook made famous by George Clinton And The Funkadelics. They conclude this short set with their original Chicago blues number "Low Down Dirty Blues" and an unexpected short funky finale with the classic rock guitar song "Smoke On The Water" written and performed by Deep Purple.

If you could go back in time, this is one live show you wouldn't want to miss! If you have never experienced Big James and the Chicago Playboys live, they are one high powered, horn-driven, Chicago style blues band unequaled anywhere. Big James Montgomery has a soul-fired voice comparable to the late great Luther Allison. Make it a point to hear this celebration of the low down funky blues!

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