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Although Albert Bashor’s Cotton Field of Dreams on Chicago’s Earwig Records may be his first release, he has been the music scene for quite some time. Earwig records was interested in signing him back in 1993, but as is quite common, the band broke up! But Bashor kept on writing and performing and one of his songs, “Rockin Red Rooster,” was recorded by none other than Lonnie Brooks in 1996.
So now in 2012, again thanks to Earwig Records, Albert Bashor has finally released this very eclectic collection of songs as a solo artist. Produced by Earwig’s Michael Frank and fellow Chicagoan Lynn Orman Weiss, this is a delightful collection of tunes with something for everybody. The CD covers blues, acoustic, and roots rock all really well.
As an interesting note on the production of this CD, what drums are to be found are provided by Chicagoan Willie “The Touch” Hayes, but the surprising thing is that they are used very sparingly and most cuts do not even have a drum track. With the quality of the songs, lyrics and arrangements, I found myself not missing them at all.
The CD opens with “Jukin’ Down on Johnson Street”, a fast paced rhythmic tune with Bashor’s slide guitar intertwined. The CD then moves smoothly into “Rockin’ Red Rooster” for more upbeat blues. On the next cut, Bashor displays his skills as a compelling storyteller for a fun tale about a beloved Florida hometown rib joint that becomes the victim of bad PR. He uses it to introduce the funky, mostly instrumental, track “Poodle Ribs.” All three songs will have you tapping your feet and dancing in your seat.
Things then slow down a bit for “Put Me On Like You Do”, “Tater Diggin Woman” and my personal favorite “So Blue”. On this track Albert’s guitar playing and voice are superbly accented by the addition of Shay Jones’ excellent duet vocals.
Shay Jones on vocals, Ron Holloway on sax and Bill Payne’s (Little Feat) keyboards really add a polish to the end results as they weave in and out of the CD. Well known ‘80s blues rocker guitarist Pat Travers takes “Fetch Me” to a place I’m sure nobody was expecting in pre-production. He was not initially part of the plan but just happened into the studio one day and joined in.
The title track, “Cotton Field of Dreams,” is a moody assortment of layered guitars and sax with Bashor’s equally poignant vocals layered on top. This is definitely a composition worthy of being a title song. It’s sung from the point of view of a Delta bluesman who dreams of heading north to Chicago to seek a better life as a musician. The CD’s striking cover art reflects this theme.
There is surely something for everybody on this release and it is a fine first effort for Bashor. And as far as this reviewer is concerned, next time I’m anywhere near Eustis, Florida I’ll be looking for Mr. King’s BBQ!
Larry Schara is a 40 year veteran of the music industry as a musician, engineer, producer with 9 Grammy nominated credits, a couple of gold records and a fond remembrance of working with Ray Charles, B.B. King and Chuck Berry among others.