Ronnie Baker Brooks - 'Times Have Changed'

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Ronnie Baker Brooks - 'Times Have Changed'

Times may have changed, but Ronnie Baker Brooks' talent hasn't.

Often seen, wrongly of course, as Blues icon Lonnie Brooks' little boy, this first album in ten years shows just what Ronnie Baker Brooks has learnt and just what he can do, and that's a lot. Mind you, he did have help. Yes, this man has a rolodex as large as the national debt; how else do you explain Steve Cropper, Angie Stone, Lee Roy Parnell, Lannie McMillan and rapper Al Kapone among others. Recorded as if they just pitched up and plugged in (in reality, it took a very long time to get them all together), this judicious set of newbies and covers is just so enjoyable.

It's the assurance that allows him to do the mess around, never more evident than on Curtis Mayfield's 'Give Me Your Love' in which Stone is soft and sensuous with the horns, strings, narrative whispers and utter cool all present in its six minutes. Opener 'Show Me' is a little tentative and Cropper's solo is (whisper it) not essential, but as Freddie King's 'Twine Time', featuring his dad, blares with an organ and people chat around a reserved solo, the work picks up. Kapone's Rap to take us out of summery with 'Times Have Changed' (Brooks likes a bit of Rap, for proof see his 2006 album 'The Torch') whilst 'Old Love' has a JJ Grey smouldering smudge and fine Falsetto, not to mention the Stax brilliance of 'Wham Bam Thank You Sam'.

Have the stabilisers come off Brooks' bike? No, and that's rather facetious; talking to him, he takes his learning time seriously but doesn't wear like that? Why should he, he is great at what he does and has managed to make that pay on this album. A wide variety of excellence which never makes you sad you came.

Times may have changed, but Ronnie Baker Brooks' talent hasn't.

Steve Swift

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