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Grana' Louise "Gettin' Kinda Rough!"
One thing is for sure about Grana' Louise, and that is that she definitely knows how to belt out the Blues. As a matter of fact she is pretty good at belting out Soul and Rock N' Roll, as well, something you become quickly aware of after only listening to a few moments of her Delmark Debut Release, "Gettin' Kinda Rough!". Grana' Louise' style harkens back to the older days and has been compared to Etta James, Koko Taylor, and Ruth Brown, which this icon of the Chicago Blues Scene loves to show off where ever she is performing.
Personally I had not heard of Grana' Louise until I received "Gettin' Kinda Rough!" in the mail, but I highly respect Delmark's track record of releasing exceptionally good music, even if the artist in question may not be the most well known.
"Gettin' Kinda Rough!" consists of a rather interesting mix of Tracks, 12 in all, of which Grana Louise gets credit for writing 4 of the tracks, with one of them being co-written with Bill Syniar. Bill Syniar is also one of the musicians on "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", and is credited with playing all the instruments on Track 7 "Gonna Get 'Cha". The other musicians on "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", included Tom Holland (Guitar), Bill Hargrave (Bass), Clarence "Curfew" Scott (Drums), Carlos Showers (Guitar, Tracks 8 - 12). Tom Holland has been a "professional musician for over 11 years now, Tom Holland has honed his craft well, and has become one of the most respected, and in demand guitarists on the Chicago blues scene." Tom Holland also regularly tours with James Cotton and plays guitar on Cotton's latest critically acclaimed release, "Giant". Tom Holland plays guitar on all 12 Tracks on "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", joining in with Guitarist Carlos Showers during the Live part of this Album.
As far as the Covers go for "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", I found them to be a very very interesting mix, after all, it is not often, if ever, that one finds both "Stagger Lee' and "Hey Joe" on the same Album. Another interesting choice for "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", was "I Can't Stand The Rain".
"Gettin' Kinda Rough!" starts off with "Stagger Lee", a song that I simply love no matter who does it, and Grana' Louise also does a great job with this classic. This first track also gives us a sense of the great guitar work of Tom Holland, with the nice bit of solo work he gets into at around the halfway mark of "Stagger Lee".
Getting a feel for where Grana' Louise may be coming from, could have been the inspiration behind the first Original song, "Lead Foot Mama", which is perfectly delivered for her style and one in which you start to get a great feel for the way in which Grana' Louise has chosen to perform.
One thing I noticed right away after I received this Album was the big yellow sticker on the back which said, "Warning: Contains Sexually Explicit Lyrics". Now mind you, I have gotten CD's before with that label and they certainly lived up to it, but I must admit that for the few songs that are on this Album, which fall under that warning, they are still fairly mild in that regard, bordering on more humorous than anything else.
"Gettin' Kinda Rough!" is a pretty near a split Album for the way it was recorded, with the first 7 Tracks being done in a Studio and the last 5 being done Live. I have run across a few Albums over the last year or so that are done this way and find them to be very interesting to listen to and to compare how different, if at all, the Live performances are from the Studio ones. With "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", there is definitely that hollow sound but the music and singing still comes across strong and very entertaining. The Live Tracks were recorded at the Blue Chicago, which is located on Clark Street in Chicago.
With "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", I found all the performances to be rock solid, with nothing overly spectacular, yet still the right mix of great vocal delivery and musicianship to keep you interested and attentive throughout. As I said earlier, Grana' Louise' style has been compared to Etta James, Koko Taylor, and Ruth Brown and if those are artists whom are on your favorites list, then "Gettin' Kinda Rough!", is certainly an Album you should be getting yourself acquainted with.
All in all, "Gettin' Kinda Rough!" was a great introduction for me of Grana' Louise. She is a very fine singer and a equally great entertainer, as the Live Tracks on this Album certainly prove.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
Additional Info
1. Stagger Lee
2. Lead Foot Mama
3. Where You Been?
4. Learning How To Cheat On You
5. Big Dick, M'isipi
6. Bang Bang Ba-Bang Bang Bang Bang!
7. Gonna Get 'Cha
8. Wet Match
9. Queen Bee
10. Back Door Blues
11. I Can't Stand The Rain
12. Hey Joe