A laid-back tribute to Mayfield
Reviewed December 2008
Get Way Back
By Amos Garrett
Stony Plain Records: 2008
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Blues guitar ace Amos Garrett, whose credits go back to early '70s versions of the Butterfield Blues band and years of studio work before releases in the 1990s of his own group, most notbably "Off the Floor Live" from 1996, which featured his silky smooth guitar playing, and like his new release, "Get Way Back," his own vocals.
Garrett makes it clear that "Get Way Back" is a labor of love, consisting entirely of compositions of seminal 1950s blues songwriter Percy Mayfield, best known for such gems as "Hit the Road Jack" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love." This tribute, while great for those who are fans of Mayfield (though it contains neither of these tunes), is a significant stylistic limitation for Garrett on this disc. The addition of his smokey baritone, at times reminiscent of Fats Domino, crooning on many tunes with very similar blues structure and lyrical themes tends to weigh the album down with stretches of sameness.
The highlight is Garrett's guitar playing and the work of the backing musicians and production team throughout. Though he tends to keep his guitar in his holster for the most part, limiting his clean, fluid work to a few measures on most tunes, on "Stranger in My Own Hometown" he stretches out in a rare shuffle. Taking advantage of the 12-bar format to snake in and out of the groove with his unusual, unhurried scales, he also lays out some memorable licks on "To Claim It's Love" and "Fading Love." The best overall mixture of his basso voice, guitar and memorable music is on "Never Say Naw."
"Get Way Back" is a disc that takes a few listens to get the feel for. It is "get laid-back" music for listeners who appreciate the lesser-known works of a classic blues songwriter as interpreted by a very talented guitarist whose goal here is to put the spotlight on the songs.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.