Blues Underground Network
Fred Sanders "I Believe"
There are quite a few exceptional Blues artists that go through their career and really don't hit the big times, quietly going about their business, just flying under the radar, and Fred Sanders was one of them. His career as part of the Beale Street blues scene, stretched many years and he was considered a local legend. The earlier part of his career saw him in Texas learning the Texas Blues from the late 50's till the late 60's, when he moved back to Memphis, the place of his birth. During a 7 year tenure as staff guitarist at the famed Club Paradise, Fred Sanders had the opportunity to play with many Blues greats which included "B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, and many others." Fred was part of the Memphis Blues Caravan and also played with the "Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, Count Basie’s band, Buddy Rich, and Johnnie Taylor." When he wasn't busy playing other gigs, one could find him quite often playing at W.C. Handy Park.
"I Believe" marks Fred Sanders second album, of which his first was called "Long Time Comin", released in 1991. "I Believe" was also Fred Sanders last album as, sadly, he passed away in January from a stroke. Fred Sanders had also been battling lung cancer, yet that did not seem to discourage him from playing and recording. "I Believe" was released a few weeks after his death through I55 Productions, whom also resurrected "Long Time Comin".
"I Believe" consists of 10 great Tracks of the style of his first release which was Memphis Blues mixed in with a little Soul. Fred Sanders was responsible for the sole writing of 2 of the Tracks and co-writing of the remaining 8. The other co-writers on various Tracks included fellow musicians Brad Webb, Tony Adams, and Dan Cochran. Additional artists on "I Believe" included Russell Wheeler, Tiffany Bramble, and Mr. Piano himself, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms whom played on 5 Tracks. "I Believe" was produced and mixed by Brad Webb and Tony Adams and recorded at Webb Studios.
There is no doubt that Fred Sanders forte is his exquisite guitar work, which is more then evident on the collection of 3 instrumental Tracks, which included Track 4 "Time Out", Track 7 "Blue Bolero", and Track 10 "Red Eye Gravy". Of the 3 instrumentals, I particularity enjoyed "Blue Bolero" especially with the great B-3 Organ work of Russell Wheeler. Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms also lays down some seriously good B-3 Organ work on 5 of the albums 10 Tracks and also throws in a little Wah Piano on Track 3 "I Think About You Baby". Fans of mighty fine slow cooked Blues will enjoy Tracks 8 & 9, "Wake Up" & "Hey Come On 'Little Girl'".
Fred Sanders was not one of those fancy pants Guitarists and Singers, as he was more concerned with offering up a pure feeling of the Blues then trying to show off. Such superb professionalism of that sort permeates throughout "I Believe".
For Fred Sanders, "I Believe" was his last call before his final departure and one in which truly leaves us a sense of what Fred Sanders was all about, and that was playing his Blues and Soul in such a way that it made all of us Believe.
Thanks Fred for making this one and leaving behind a fine legacy to remember you by.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)