Blues Underground Network
Al Basile "The Goods"
There are not a lot of Artists that can claim to also be published poets, but than again there are not a lot of Artists like Al Basile. Often referred to as "The Bard Of the Blues", Al Basile's talents as a songwriter, poet, and cornetist are starting to, slowly but surely, take him into the realm of legendary status. For his 8th solo release, "The Goods", Al once again brings all those talents to the forefront, bringing us all into a magical musical world he skillfully creates via his amazing gift as also a storyteller.
Al Basile's fantastic ability to tell a story comes from the fact that he was originally a poet and fiction writer before becoming a musical performer. In fact, Al was the first person to get a "Master's Degree from Brown University's Creative Writing program". Meeting Duke Robillard in 1969, sent Al in basically a different artistic direction, one that lead him to being hired "as the first trumpet player for Rhode Island's premier jump band Roomful of Blues", which kick started his musical career. In 1975
Al left Roomful Of Blues to commit himself more to his songwriting, singing, and teaching. That decision however did not end the musical commeraderie between Al and Duke, as they have spent many of the years since, both performing with and writing songs for each other. "The Goods", once again, brings these 2 musical dynamo's together, with Duke Robillard not only playing guitar, but also producing this Album.
"The Goods" consists of 13 Original Tracks, in the styles of music that Al Basile has loved for so long, the Blues, Soul, R&B, and Gospel, and while I am sure he could have effectively created an Album for each of those Genres, it is his ability to cohesively blend those styles on one album that makes his music so special. Performing with Al Basile on "The Goods" was of course Duke Robillard (Guitar), whom also brought along his band consisting of Brad Hellen (Bass), Bruce Bears (Keyboards), Mark Teixeira (Drums) and Sax Man Extraordinaire Doug James, whom not only brings his Saxophone prowess, but also adds the sounds of the Bass Clarinet and Piccolo to the mix. "The Goods" also features Legendary performers The Blind Boys of Alabama which perform the Background Vocals for the Soulful/Gospel Track "Lie Down in Darkness (Raise Up in Light)".
When it comes to writing lyrics, Al Basile's forte is certainly the fact that he is and has always been, a great Storyteller, which is no more evident than in the 13 great stories he manages to eloquently tell via "The Goods". Whether it be a story about the last five minutes of a criminals car chase, "1.843 Million", which by the way even included sirens, or a story about his love/hate relationship with the phone and how he directs his displeasure at none other than it's inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, "Mr. Graham Bell", Al Basile will certainly delight you not only via his lyrics, but also by how he fits it all together with the music.
When it comes to Al Basile's Horn playing on "The Goods", he truly shows off the master musician that he is, perfectly stepping in and out of the song, knowing all to well when a little dash is needed or not needed to the musical recipe. That kind of Master Craftsmanship is also displayed courtesy of all the other musicians on "The Goods", especially Duke Robillard, as he magically weaves the notes of his Guitar, in and out of each song.
As the name implies, Al Basile certainly continues to deliver "The Goods" as only he knows how. He continually manages to enthrall us with not only his ability to bring Pen to Paper, but also with ability to bring the Lyrics to Life...
"The Goods" is an Album I have no problem Highly Recommending, and I really don't care if you are just a dedicated Blues fan, because the music that Al Basile creates deserves everyone's attention, Blues fans and Beyond.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. The Price (I Got To Pay)
2. Along Come The Kid
3. Lie Down in Darkness (Raise Up in Light)
4. 1.843 Million
5. Time Can Wait
6. I Want to Put it There
7. The Itch
8. Mr. Graham Bell
9. She's A Taker
10. Reality Show
11. Pealing Bells
12. Don't Sleep on Santa
13. Distant Ships