King of the Blues
American guitarist Chris Cain is a regular visitor to these shores and late last year he recorded this set with The Rodger Fox Big Band. Consider it a business card, of sorts. Here you get to hear Cain do his B.B. King thing across Whole Lotta Lovin’ and So Excited, the latter including a decent harmonica solo from Erna Ferry and some great baritone honking from Eilish Wilson before Bryn van Vliet steps up to blow alto.
Cain is the start of the show though and the band knows this – sitting back and letting him wail. He’s a monster player and a great singer, even a great singer/songwriter when you hear one or two choice cuts re-recorded from his earlier solo albums, particularly the punchy opener, Helping Hand and the ballad, A Year Ago Today.
There’s so much room here for guitar solos galore and each one is a nice surprise, no cliché licks. Alan Broadbent’s Sidewalk Stanley is the album closer and here is where Cain fully lets rip. But elsewhere, across the jazzy strut of Bossa For Josie and Petties Theme, and with Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s Heartbreaker transformed into something akin to an Albert King slow-burn stormer Cain is a happy, dominant force.
There’s fine playing in support from all of the members of the well-oiled machine that is the Rodger Fox Big Band – and fortunately Cain is back in the country this year to do it all again with a set of live shows. He’s one to watch.