Released: 2009 Styles: Soul-Blues, Modern Electric Blues Label: Benevolent Blues Art: Front
01. Houdini Lover (4:22) 02. Love To See You Smile (4:40) 03. Stoop Down Low (4:53) 04. Soul Of A Man (4:28) 05. 1,2,3,4,5 Shots Of Whiskey (5:16) 06. Millionaire (4:02) 07. Country Lovin' Man (2:50) 08. Looking For My Baby (5:25) 09. Recess In Heaven (4:08) 10. Today I Started Loving You Again (3:26) 11. Blues Man (Live) (9:13)
Chick Willis has made stacks of good Blues music but this is the one where it all comes together the best- the songs, the singing, the playing and, most importantly to me, the production. All real instruments, including a full horn section. Produced by saxman Jacques Johnson Sr. and Mr. Willis this CD just sounds superb!
As it says on the cover this year marks the 53rd year Chick has been playing the Blues and he's at the height of his powers. The rollicking BB King-like shuffle "Houdini Lover" kicks things off featuring mighty horns, tight rhythm and impassioned vocals like: "Some women like 'em bad so I act like a thug/Some women like men gentle like the bubbles in the tub/I'm a Houdini lover/I got some magic for y'all/I can create any illusion til I get what I came here for!". Johnson delivers a housrockin' sax solo on this one. Chick's like the great magician/illusionist/escape artist Houdini in that he can create any illusion the women want to see to "get what I came here for" (and then presumably he proceeds to escape). Another great original, which may become a standard, is "1,2,3,4,5 Shots Of Whiskey". Willis' dry, tart guitar dominates this midtempo number with a very catchy refrain. Meanwhile Chick bookends his signature classic "Stoop Down Baby" with a sequel entitled "Stoop Down Low". In it he says he's been "stooping down since 1972" (when the song first appeared) but now at his age he better stoop down as much as he can now before he "can't stoop down no more!".
Equally strong are inspired covers of Bobby Blue Bland's "Soul Of A Man", "I Love To See You Smile" and "Millionaire". Willis' band and session musicians (Johnson, Nat Noland, Chuck Carthan, Billy Hancock, Andy Hamburger, Steve Walker, Bobby Felder) all play like they have something to prove.
As a special bonus there's nearly-10 minute slow Blues to close out the album. Recorded live, "Blues Man", affords Chick plenty of space to show off his guitar prowess. All in all this is Chick Willis' best album. ~Review by Steven Alvarez