Monday, August 23, 2010

Review of JJ Grey & MOFRO - Georgia Warhorse

Georgia Warhorse
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.


  1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however I do believe that if you are going to post a review of an album that you should make it accurate. Daryl did not play on this recording.

    I can understand if you go into the album thinking that it suppose to be somewhat traditional blues then you would be disappointed. If you would listen to the record with an open mind you may realize that it actually is a unique sound that you don't hear too often, in a refreshing way. JJ Grey & Mofro are known more as swamp rock with a blues influence, than a traditional blues/soul group. That deep woods FL sound. Connected with nature.

    Again everyone is entitled to their opinon and I would recommend anyone to listen to the CD, don't buy it unless you want to. Go to the myspace's all there to listen to for free. Make your own decision about the sound and the feel. And try not to be hypnotized by the haunting sound of Lullaby with features Derek Trucks on the slide guitar.

  2. Much as it is with any form of art, each person's appreciation for music is entirely subjective according to their own tastes. I appreciate and embrace that fact, because it's one of those beautiful things that make us all individuals.

    That being said, as this is a public review, I feel obligated to go on record here and say that I don't believe I have ever read a review that I have disagreed with on such an emphatic, borderline cosmic level.
    Aside from the obvious tangible inaccuracy that was mentioned several times throughout the review (as was pointed out in the previous comment), I'm quite disappointed in the baseless and somewhat puerile tone of the entire review.

    While Mr. Fats' is perfectly entitled to his own subjective opinions, it seems to me that he may have gone into his listening experience with preconceived notions based on the record label that the band belongs to, as well as a personal disdain for the increasing exposure and accessible reputation that had preceded the music before his listen.

    There is no doubt that JJ Grey & Mofro's album Georgia Warhorse is not Mr. Fats' cup of tea, but I suggest that you listen to the music yourself and come to your own conclusions.

  3. Opinions are opinions.

    But when a musician who does a cover version of 'She Caught the Katy' while wearing dark sunglasses derides something as being "derivative" and unoriginal, I can't help but question how consequential their opinion is to me.

    I also think that when someone takes a not-so-subtle jab at the vocal abilities of an artist (which makes me question their ability to hear in the first place), they might want to consider the fact that they have Youtube videos and audio files of their own singing pasted all over the internet for everyone to compare with (No offense to Dan).

    I agree with the others, this obviously isn't an objective review so you should just listen to it yourself and see if you like it.

  4. Abnerman & Lisa....very good points, very hard to argue.

    Lesterstandish - Two things you should probably consider...I'm NOT a professional musician and certainly don't claim to be an original artist....and that moniker is lame. I know it's you GrandMa.

    As always, thanks for reading.

  5. Also, my apologies for mistaking Daryl Hance's guitar work in the review. I admit to NOT being familiar with the band and only went by the liner notes. My apologies Mr. Hance, perfect I aint.

  6. maybe you should listen to DARYL HANCE's
    new CD release-HALLOWED GROUND & then make
    a true reprimand of your imperfections towards
    mr. hance.