This incarnation of Roomful of Blues includes vocalist and harmonica player Sugar Ray Norcia taking the singing spotlight, Matt McCabe now their pianist and Chris Vachon principal guitarist. This CD blends blues and R&B classics with a couple of originals; highlights include a fine reading of Smiley Lewis' "Lillie Mae," a remake of "Hey Now" originally done by Ray Charles and Norcia's fiery vocal and torrid harmonica solo on Little Walter Jacobs' "Up The Line." This is faithful to the classic tradition, but contains enough contemporary qualities to have a fresh and inviting sound.
This is one of the first volumes in Rounder Records' Rounder Heritage series, which will celebrate the company's 30-year history with a line of 30 releases that dip into the label's deep catalog of blues, folk, and bluegrass recordings. The Blues'll Make You Happy, Too! compiles 14 tracks from various Roomful of Blues albums released over the past 20 years.
Roomful of Blues is an American blues and swing revival big band based in Rhode Island. With a recording career that spans over 40 years, they have toured worldwide and recorded many albums. Roomful of Blues, according to The Chicago Sun-Times, "Swagger, sway and swing with energy and precision". Since 1967, the group’s blend of swing, rock and roll, jump blues, boogie-woogie and soul has earned it five Grammy Award nominations and many other accolades, including seven Blues Music Awards. Billboard called the band "a tour de force of horn-fried blues…Roomful is so tight and so right." The Down Beat International Critics Poll has twice selected Roomful of Blues as Best Blues Band…
Over the course of its decades-long existence, Roomful of Blues effectively became a franchise unto itself, built more on a brand-name collective identity than on the voices of the myriad individual members who kept the band a smoothly humming machine. Describing Roomful of Blues that way, however, gives short shrift to the many accomplished musicians who have emerged from the band's ranks over the years: guitarists Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl, organist Ron Levy, pianist Al Copley, singer Lou Ann Barton, vocalist/harmonica player Sugar Ray Norcia, and drummer Fran Christina (later of the Fabulous Thunderbirds), to name the most prominent. Plus, the band's horn section blossomed into a renowned freelancing unit, backing countless other artists both on-stage and in the studio. - AllMusicGuide
This legendary blues-jam band is rolling past three decades now, and this fiery swinging collection is one of their most powerful and varied recordings ever. In addition to the "Tower of Power on speed" energies that have earned them various awards, critical accolades, and a devoted following, this collection boasts dashes of funk, soul, the inimitable saxman Rich Lataille, and the crisp guitar excitement of Chris Vachon. At the forefront is the raspy vocal believability of Mac Odom. It's always interesting how the best blues bands can make songs of despair sound so joyous, but Roomful of Blues also takes a few more wistful looks at romance……
At the end of 1997, several members left the band, leaving their ranks decimated. But the remaining members brought in new blood, regrouped, and opened up their musical outlook to start auditioning new material (rather than just covering old standards and obscure items), and 1998 saw the new Roomful of Blues hit the racks and the road…….
At its best, Roomful of Blues is a throwback to the heated jump blues bands of the early '50s, which blended hard-driving swing with the extroverted emotions of early R&B. However, this particular release is different than expected. Listeners who hope to hear extended solos and riotous ensembles are sure to be disappointed with Under One Roof, for much of the time Roomful of Blues sounds like an anonymous backup group put together specifically to accompany singer Sugar Ray Norcia. Norcia is a versatile and talented singer, and his repertoire ranges from a Basie blues to tunes that are closer to rock, soul and even country. If one comes to this CD without false expectations, the music is enjoyable on its own level, but from a jazz standpoint, the release is rather routine and not very significant.