Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Fanning the Flames
Genres: Blues, Pop, Rock
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Excellent work by a talented performer
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tinsley Ellis, whom I saw perform a few years back at a blues festival, has become one of my favorite electric blues artists. His live performance was outstanding, and he delivers the goods on "Fanning the Flames" as well. Although this CD is not his best effort, I'd rate it a very close second (his best being "Storm Warning").The CD features (like all of Mr. Ellis' work) excellent guitar work and above average vocals. The album's best cut, "Dangling by a Thread", features an outstanding lead guitar riff and infectious base line that seem to have invaded my brain and taken up long-term residence; it's one of those songs you can't get out of your mind. Also noteworthy are "Loneliness Is Here to Stay" (reminiscent of Robert Cray at times), "Put Me Where You Want Me" (a bouncing kind of blues tune, almost approaching pop in its supporting vocals), and the humorous "Deaf, Dumb, Crippled and Blind.""Fender Blender" is an instrumental tune featuring some quick and intricate guitar somersaults. Indeed, the song illustrates both the strong and occasional weak points of Tinsley's work -- sometimes he overdoes the guitar pyrotechnics when a simpler approach would work. The only song on the CD I personally don't care for is "Must Be the Devil" -- Tinsley's seemingly forced nasal-toned vocals don't really work on it.Overall though this is another excellent work from one of the current music world's more capable electric blues artists. Easily worth the effort and money if you're a fan of the genre."
Somewhat sedate cd by usuallyscorching guitarist - 3.5 Stars
Todd Smith | 07/08/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have several of the Alligator Records collections (all outstanding by the way) and have heard several other Tinsley Ellis songs, and my preliminary thought was that Ellis would likely be one of my favorite blues guitarists. Those songs focused on Ellis' powerful, searing, almost-nasty, but excellent guitar playing and I had him pegged as one of the hardest edged blues guitarists around. The cover photo on this cd, showing flames leaping off Ellis' guitar, would reinforce that image.Unfortunately, Fanning the Flames is a much smoother sounding, and correspondingly less powerful or interesting album than the other tracks I had heard. Ellis emphasizes his vocals as much as, if not more than his guitar on many of these songs, and while his voice is ok, he's no Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor or Mighty Sam McClain. Most/all of the songs have a horns section playing in the background, and the others strongly feature the organ. I generally prefer blues to be played by either a three or four piece band, with the focus on the lead guitar. Now I like the harp-based blues of James Cotton, Carey Bell and others. I enjoy the Hammond work by Bernard Allison's (and formerly his father's) keyboard player and I really like the piano-based eclectic blues band Saffire. Even an occasional sax solo is ok (actually the one on the 6th track, Fender Bender is quite good), but I have yet to hear a single guitar-based blues song featuring a full horns section that was not diluted and worsened by the horns (e.g. SRV Live at Carnegie Hall). If your restaurant has the best steaks in the state, you wouldn't serve them completely slathered in six different steak sauces, would you? Same thing here with the horns.As for the songs, as noted below, Dangling by a Thread does have the best (and longest) guitar solo on the album, but most of the other songs are of the genre "play integrated (i.e., non-guitar emphasized) music for two minutes, play little 15-20 second guitar solo, replay chorus and end song." Even the pretty good instrumental Fender Bender features Ellis' guitar work for only about 20% of the total song. Pawnbroker and Deaf, Dumb, Crippled and Blind (about being broke) and Born in Georgia also have kind of annoying, sophomoric lyrics that I just didn't find clever.All in all, this isn't a bad album, it's just one that wasn't produced with Tinsley's strength as a guitar player in mind. If Ellis has other cd's that focus on his powerful guitarwork and ditch the horns section, I would appreciate brief comments from other reviewers about those other cd's."
T O N E. Plain and simple. He's got one of the best.
Todd Smith | Colorado, USA | 02/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw him play "live" in a small club in Savannah, Georgia right around the time of this disc's release, and it's just as refreshing as his "live" show. His guitar technique on tracks like "SO MANY TEARS" and "DANGLING BY A THREAD" are very exciting and creative. "LONLINESS IS HERE TO STAY" is a really smokey,slow blues reminiscent of Robert Cray's style, and it has a great clean, singing lead guitar riff. Songs like "BORN IN GEORGIA" and "PAWNBROKER" are heartfelt testaments to his love of the guitar. If I worked at Fender, I'd make Tinsley a worldwide representative of the Stratocaster. He's one of the best Alligator artists, and this disc proves it. Awesome!"