Trust me, you’re going to love this one. And I’m not talking about my amazing review, I’m talking about the CD. Here are my thoughts on the execellent debut release from The Gayle Harrod Band. Enjoy…..
The Gayle Harrod Band
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © February 2023
Is forty-two years of age too late to start a singing career? Of course it isn’t – especially if it’s the blues you’ll be singing. Since many of the more successful artists of the genre didn’t reach success until well beyond that age, waiting till then may have been Gayle Harrod’s way of taking a short cut.
Fast forward a dozen years, and after performing in classic rock, R&B and blues bands, Gayle – now in her fabulous fifties – has blessed us with a fabulous debut release of all original music titled, Temptation.
Doing her best to keep unemployment down in Baltimore, Md, it appears that Gayle Harrod may have used most of the residents of zip code 21229 on the project. Joining Gayle – on vocals, melodies, claps and hollers are: Stan Turk on rhythm and lead guitar, claps and hollers; Buddy Spier on rhythm and slide guitar, organ, Wurlitzer and bass; Chuck Ferrell on drums, percussion, horn arrangements, claps and hollers; Brian Simms on piano, organ, claps and hollers; Christopher Brown on bass guitar, claps and hollers; and Rachelle Danto on harmonica. Special guests include: Jonathan Sloane, Sol Roots and Bobby Thompson on guitar; The Beltway Horns – who are made up of: Greg Boyer on trombone and horn arrangements; Brad Clements on trumpet and Brent Birckhead on alto sax; Mary Ann Redmond and Dusty Rose on background vocals; and Shelley Ensor, Amy S. Taylor, Alice Chase Dorsey, Pamela Grimes, Val Murray, Sharlette L. Taylor, Lenard Foust and Steve Grimes – who collectively are The Voices Of Faith of The First Baptist Church of Baltimore – on background vocals and claps.
The disc opens with a song on which Gayle tells a tale of walking down Beale Street with a bad case of the blues…..then Bam!, within a minute of walking into a joint, that all changed. If there were ever a love at first sight story, Gayle meeting this “Sweet Memphis Man” is indeed it and, she’s certainly happy to tell us all about it. Musically, it’s a rhythm filled, dance floor filler led by deep bass lines and drumbeats from Christopher and Chuck; lots of extra added heat coming from the Beltway Horns; outstanding piano leads from Brian; and a great introduction to one heck of a powerful vocalist – Gayle Harrod. I’m ready for more.
I have to admit, with these opening lines…..
“Baby, I’m tired, so tired of your lying.
I’m so tired of getting down on my knees, begging and crying.
What was I thinking, to waste so much time?
Crawling after a man who could never be mine”…..
I’m kind of wondering if that Memphis man wasn’t so sweet after all.
Hopefully, he was – and still is, and “Baby We’re Through” is totally about the guy before him. This is one of a handful of tracks that feature only the nucleus of the band, and these guys are absolutely on fire. With intense performances from Chuck and Brian on the drums and organ, the rhythm is absolutely profound; and being the blues burner that it is, with three of them – Bobby on lead and Stan & Buddy on rhythm – there’s lots of gritty guitar work going down; and with some dead serious attitude, there’s no questioning Gayle being over this loser.
On the title track, like many of us, Gayle’s struggling with “Temptation”. She’s got a devil on her left shoulder that’s in control of her body, and an angel on her right shoulder that’s guiding her heart. Strangely enough – and I’m sure this is the devil speaking, not Gayle – the fact that she can’t resist temptation when it comes to having fun, is the Lord’s fault for making her that way. Musically, the band is appropriately in a dark place with a perfect eerie groove being added by the faint piercing of Rachelle’s harmonica and Buddy’s slide guitar in the background. As she prays for forgiveness, Gayle – with hymnal type help from Mary Ann and Dusty on the backing vocals – takes us right to the perfect place for the help she needs – church!
Okay air band members, this one is right up your alley. Drummers, get out your sticks; guitarists, get out your picks; and trumpeters, get those lips licked; as a matter of fact, dancers get your dancing shoes on as well; because what Chuck (drums), Sol (guitar) and Brad (trumpet), and the rest of the gang are laying down on “In The Deep Dark Night”, I’m sure they’ll be expecting you to all join in on this smoker.
This one is titled “Bring Me Along”, and the place that Gayle – and just about everyone in the credits – wants to be brought to is definitely church. That said, I’m sure they’ll be happy to bring you along as well. Just follow their lead by joining in on the hand claps, singing along on the chorus line and shouting out hallelujah! Go ahead, turn it up loud and do it like no one is looking.
I must have replayed the fifteen-second horn intro on “Break” well over a dozen times trying to figure out what song it reminded me of, and I got nowhere. I know the minute someone with a sharper memory hears the song they’ll know it. When that happens, I’ll be expecting to hear from you. Anyway, it’s a great up-tempo number which features Gayle showcasing her fabulous vocal skills.
A torch type ballad titled “The In Between”, is easily the most beautiful song of the bunch. It features the duo of Chuck on drums and Buddy on Wurlitzer, guitar and bass, on a masterful performance in which their work sounds so prevalent yet subtle enough for Gayle to shine – and shine she does – with a virtuoso vocal performance. It’s this listeners opinion that this one has ‘song of the year’ written all over it.
Other great songs on Temptation – easily a work that will put The Gayle Harrod Band on the radar – include: “Come On People”; “Waiting In The Shadows”; “You’re Gonna Miss Me”; “God Laughed” and “Beautiful Friend”.
If you’ve not yet received a copy of Temptation for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at – www.blindraccoon.com – and should like to find out more about The Gayle Harrod Band, just go to – www.thegayleharrodband.com
Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
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