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December 6, 2005

Canadian Blues CD Review

Written by
cindy mcleod

CD Release / Blues
The Mike Clark Band / Clarkology
Indie Release / 2005

Alberta based blues saxophonist Mike Clark has created a first-rate CD of original material with his recent release of Clarkology, a meaty blend of kick-butt blues and country shuffles, funky zydeco, and soulful roots… all delivered in a high-octane, take it to the bank fashion.

Clark has arranged and played all the horn parts for his latest release, it’s no small wonder he’s been nominated as Saxophonist of the Year for the 2005 Maple Blues Awards, just listen to this guy play and you’ll know why. That’s not the end of his enormous talent, though. Aside from writing all the lyrics and music (with some collaboration by his impressive band members) he has sung all the vocals in a gritty, honest manner.

Mike Clark

As for the band, these ten chewy tracks are performed outstandingly by a veritable who’s-who of the finest in Canadian blues. It doesn’t get any better than making music with two-time Juno winner Johnny V, the inimitable Grammy Award winner Amos Garrett, rock-solid bassist Greg Carroll, and one of the funkiest drummers alive, Thom Moon. Add to that the stylistic genius of Ron Casat’s piano, Hammond B3 and accordion and you’ve got a sure winner. But Clark added icing to this mile-high cake with a featured guest appearance by the legendary Ian Tyson, who lends his distinctive voice to one of the country tracks.

Clark’s sound is supremely Canadian in spite of the swampy grooves heavily influenced by the deep south. Morning After Blues features a stellar slide guitar solo by Johnny V, with Clark’s tenor solo roaring over a driving riff (while Clark’s horn ‘section’ builds tension behind him). Alibies and Lies, a soulful R&B track with a great country lyric, is luminated by Casat’s B3, with the whole crossing easily into a variety of radio formats. Stonehouse, inspired by a rehearsal space Clark used in southern Alberta, features stunning guitar work by Johnny V alongside Garrett’s exquisite acoustic, and is touched by the magic of Tyson’s vocal. Kansas City blues shouter Big Miller is paid homage in the high energy Tribute to Big, with Clark’s vocal transmitting the power of the great man’s spirit.

There isn’t a single track on this CD that doesn’t deserve mention, this is a recording that will stand the test of time and is already taking Clark to the top of the charts around the globe. If you’re a Canadian, you can bust with pride, for this is another fine example of the exceptional talent our fair nation produces. If not, we’re happy to share.

for more information visit www.mikeclarkband.com

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