Monday, August 23, 2010
Review of JJ Grey & MOFRO - Georgia Warhorse
JJ Grey & MOFRO
Alligator Records (B003TTZSY2)
Release date : August 24th, 2010
Review by Georgetown Fats
If the legendary Bruce Iglauer thinks enough of a group or an artist to sign them to his label, then the artist or group is worth my time to give a few spins. For Iglauer to have formed Alligator Records just to record Hound Dog Taylor, and then to make Alligator Records a home to such legendary artists as Koko Taylor or Charlie Musselwhite or up and comers Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials then his opinion and label holds a great deal of weight in my music purchasing decisions. After a few spins of “Georgia Warhorse”, clearly I am missing something.
For those who have lived under the same rock I have recently, JJ Grey & MOFRO are a seven piece soul/funk/R&B/Blues/southern rock band from Jacksonville Florida. Have been the latest ‘it’ band for “Blues Review” or people cover musicians on the blues jam circuit looking to do something a little different during their sets, I had expected a great deal when I finally had a chance to be exposed to their original recordings. Having learned this was their 2nd release on the legendary Alligator Records label, I have to give Mr. Iglauer a pass for signing this radio friendly/pedestrian act.
“Georgia Warhorse” opens with “Diyo Dayo”. Guitarist Daryl Hance’s abrasively thin guitar tone does nothing to distract from JJ Grey’s overly processed vocals. By the time the rest of the band kicks in with the song, I am already uninterested. From the opening track, Grey may be a multi-instrumentalist by being credited with work on piano, acoustic and electric guitar in addition to harmonica in addition to his vocals. He should focus on his vocals first.
The opening of “King Hummingbird” features JJ Grey’s acoustic guitar work accompanying his vocals. While Grey may show some soul in his vocal work during “King Hummingbird”, his brand of soul is derivative. Other advertised soul artists have delivered a lot more convincing performance with a lot more originality.
“Hottest Spot in Hell”, the sole hotspot on “Georgia Warhorse” Grey’s overly processed vocals and guitarist Daryl Hance’s abrasively thin guitar tone may be back, but due to the subject matter it fits. In one of the few rockers on “Georgia Warhorse” it is bound to be released as a single, delivered to bait many into random purchases.
Ultimately I expect JJ Grey & MOFRO to earn considerable airplay with this radio friendly release. The mix of radio-friendly soul/blues is bound to sell a considerable volume of units helping assure Alligator Records can continue to bankroll more original artists. So they serve a purpose. Just allow me to go out on a limb, and predict JJ Grey & MOFRO tunes to one-day reach overplayed/over-covered contemporary blues status.