Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Michael Louis Band - Morning Gasoline

MMM Records, 2013

By Phillip Smith; February 1, 2014

Morning Gasoline is the latest release from The Michael Louis Band, a funky little blues group from Brooklyn, NY.  The band consists of frontman/guitarist/vocalist Michael Louis, bassist/keyboard player Andre Sebastian, drummer Keith Crupi, and special guest Chauncey Yearwood on congas.  Morning Gasoline captures the Rock and Roll spirit of the Seventies with great song writing, and top-notch performances.  Louis skillfully blends Blues and Funk, with a bit of Southern Rock.   

I really like the way the title track, “Morning Gasoline”, gets the heart pumping.  I’ve been using this as a ‘go-to’ song to help wake me up on my morning drive to work.  This one is really great fuel to start the morning off with.  The guitar is very enjoyable and I love the driving beat provided by Crupi on drums and Yearwood on congas.

When I hear Louis’s voice on “City Boy”, “Late September”, and “Vanilla Plain”, I immediately think of Elvis Costello and John Hiatt, both singer/songwriters I hold in high regards. There is slow infectious groove to “City Boy”, which pulls me in like a magnet.  Plain and simply, “Late September” is just a beautiful song. I like the tinny single guitar note accents which give it an added layer of character to it.  

Reminiscent of the funky instrumentals on the Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In sequences revolving around a dancing, bikini-clad, flower-powered Goldie Hawn, “Tazer” is one big bowl of fun. Interestingly, it slowly morphs itself from fun and funky, into a warm bath of psychedelia.  “Makin’ Time” another enjoyable treat, has that bluesy southern rock sound akin to the music of the Allman Brothers, with that slide guitar and piano.  It really surprised me how much Louis on guitar, and Sebastian on keys sounded like the Allmans. As I listen to this song, it occurs to me, there’s no doubt Louis has the chops to play pretty much anything he wants.  

The cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” shot chills up and down my spine.  This is song I’ve heard a million times, both the Stevie Wonder version, and the Stevie Ray Vaughan version.  This rendition is similar to neither of those.  It’s almost as if the tune had been dragged down South and baptized in the Mississippi river, giving it a brand new life with a thick coat of swampy grit.  There’s an uneasy daunting heaviness to it, that’s for sure. That’s what makes this cut so cool and interesting.

Morning Gasoline certainly took me by surprise.  After listening to this album, I can honestly say I am now a fan, and will be on the lookout for more to come from The Michael Louis Band.   

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