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At last: Michael Hillís Blues Mob has been captured live! After four highly acclaimed studio albums of fiery, genre-busting original music and many miles traveled rousing audiences around the globe, the excitement and energy of Michael Hillís Blues Mob onstage resounds on their Ruf Records debut, "Electric Storyland Live". Folks have been asking for a live Blues Mob album for a long time, and they wonít be disappointed. The power and dynamics, the deep grooves and eloquent stories, the bold, passionate singing and musicianship and engaging stage presence- itís all here in spades. This hot 2-disc set features rocking, action packed versions of fourteen of the best, most requested originals from their studio albums. At the urging of many fans it also includes the Mobís funky Chocolate Cream Jam, and theyíve iced the cake with live versions of two smoking new Blues Mob originals. "Electric Storyland Live" is an exhilarating 100 proof dose of their unique New York-style, soul rocking blues and a sterling addition to the rich body of work being produced by Michael Hillís Blues Mob.
It was in 1987 that Michael Hill's Bluesland (the Culture Rock Band) was formed to play original, blues-derived music that blended rock, funk, blues, Caribbean, African and R&B flavors. They played primarily in rock venues such as CBGB's that featured original music, and Hill soon spun off Michael Hill's Blues Mob to play the more "traditional" blues clubs of New York City. Whereas Bluesland was a seven piece band featuring bass, drums, guitar, sax, percussion and two female vocalists (Michael's sisters Wynette and Kathy,) the Blues Mob was a trio that sometimes added keyboards. Both bands were members of the Black Rock Coalition and featured Kevin Hill on bass and Tony Lewis on drums. While it was Bluesland with which Hill sought a record deal, a colorful turn of events brought the Blues Mob to the attention of Bruce Iglauer in 1992. When in 1993 Michael signed a deal with Iglauer's Alligator Records, his energies and attention came to focus on Michael Hill's Blues Mob.
With the release of their first Alligator album "Bloodlines" in 1994, Michael Hill's Blues Mob immediately established themselves as a cutting-edge, premier contemporary blues band with original music of uncommon power and conviction. "HILL AND COMPANY RETURN THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, AS WELL AS THE OUTRAGED HEART OF CONTEMPORARY URBAN AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, TO THE MODERN BLUES TRADITION", exclaimed Living Blues. "Bloodlines" went on to earn the Living Blues Critic's award for Debut Blues Album of the Year, as well a slew of other rave reviews. The next four years saw the band release two more highly acclaimed albums on Alligator Records, with "Have Mercy!" (1996) and "New York State Of Blues" (1998) collecting their own choruses of excellent reviews. The cheering continued on the road: Michael Hill's Blues Mob has always been a dynamic, crowd-pleasing live act, receiving much love from audiences and lighting up the stage at the Chicago Blues Festival, Memphis In May and other festivals and clubs. They've been welcomed to stages all around the rest of the world as well, doing numerous tours playing festivals and clubs in England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Norway and the rest of Europe and Scandinavia as well as tours in Turkey, Russia and five trips each to Brazil and Australia. In November 2002 Michael performed in Beirut, where Lebanese audiences enthusiastically soaked up that Blues Mob New York energy.
The New Millennium saw Michael Hill's Blues Mob release their fourth album in 2001 on Singular Records in the U.S. and Dixiefrog in Europe, and "Suite: Larger Than Life" earned the Mobís usual stellar reviews. Blues Revue said, "SUITE, HIS FIRST ALBUM SINCE 1998'S EXCELLENT NEW YORK STATE OF BLUES, SHOWS HILL EXPANDING ON HIS PREVIOUS WORK", and "IF ONE IS LOOKING FOR AN ALBUM WITH UNCOMPROMISING MUSICAL AND LYRICAL INTEGRITY, SUITE: LARGER THAN LIFE IS IT", declared Goldmine.
While the band has always drawn acclaim for Hill's songwriting and guitar playing, it's the state-of -the-art musicians in the Blues Mob who have brought the music to soul-stirring reality. The vicissitudes of life and the music business have seen original Blues Mob members Kevin Hill, Tony Lewis and Fred McFarlane as well as first tour member Douglas Booth and E.J. "the Professor" Sharpe move on to Blues Mob alumni status. As of December 2003 Pete Cummings decided to move on to other musical horizons after eight sterling years with the Mob. The band's tradition of great musicianship continues: Bill McClellan has held down drums/vocals since 1999 and in January 2004, Michael Griot (who toured Europe with the band for a month in 1998) joined as a regular member playing bass guitar, electric upright bass and singing. Back to their roots as a trio, the Blues Mob is more powerful, adventurous and exciting than ever. In addition, they've added acoustic music to their arsenal, elevating even further the rich intimacy of their performances. And while clichť and imitation are acceptable to some, no doubt Michael Hill's Blues Mob and their unique New York-style blues will continue to be in the vanguard of keeping the blues alive and thriving in the 21st century with originality, real life conviction and full-throttle fun. To paraphrase, "DAMN THE CLICHES, FULL SPEED AHEAD!"