"One of the things I think we really captured this time around was that ensemble feel like you get on those old Delmark albums, like the Little Brother Montgomery or the Mighty Joe Young albums…Real blues the way you'd hear it in a club." — Producer Fred James
While many blues players today have changed their styles to appeal to more listeners, Sam Lay remains true to the old school. The most visible drummer to ever come out of the Chicago scene, Lay's famous shuffles and grooves are still the envy of any would-be blues drummer. Now the legend returns with Rush Hour Blues, a powerhouse recording of 12 well oiled cuts.
This latest session features Nashville guitar genius Fred James in the rhythm guitar/producer's chair and the sensational lead guitar work of Larry Burton. Keyboardist Celia Ann Price, bassist Bob Kommersmith and harpist Greg "Fingers" Taylor all provide solid accompaniment.
A soulful and effective singer as well as an exceptional drummer, Lay is at home on ballads like "Second Man" and "Mama and Papa." But it's on uptempo numbers "I Like Women" and "I'm Gonna Shoot Her" where he really begins to rumble like a freight train. The authoritative opening cut, "Baby How Long," sets the tone for the disc with that big Sam Lay drum sound. The title track is a ferocious rocker that invites blues fans of every stripe to groove, while the closing "Midnight Drag" shimmers with Lay's unmistakable vitality. Larry Burton, an outstanding guitarist and a creative songwriter, contributes his own "I Got Two Women."
Rush Hour Blues is the latest installment of a remarkable music career that started when Lay became a mainstay of the Howlin' Wolf Band during their late '50s heyday. He was a charter member of the original Paul Butterfield Blues Band (a great band by any standard which laid the foundation for much of the rock experimentation of the mid-'60s) and went on to record their classic first album. He then launched a career as a solo artist, fronting the Sam Lay Blues Band over 30 years ago. Lay has also worked with Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Hound Dog Taylor and James Cotton, and his playing can be heard on more than 40 classic Chess blues recordings.
Nothing is more important in blues music than a good beat. And Sam Lay's drumming is some of the best Chicago has to offer. This auspicious Telarc debut is evidence of just how vital a singer and drummer he still remains.