Showcase for blues guitar veteran
Reviewed October 2009
Dallas guitarist Mike Morgan made a name for himself with a series of albums beginning in 1990, featuring his band the Crawl, playing tight Texas roadhouse blues-rock and R&B flavored boogie. Two of the best are 1991's "Mighty Fine Dancing" and 1998's "The Road." Though superb singer/harpist Lee McBee departed in 1999 to start his own group, the Crawl retained the sound of Morgan's tasteful chops, which are good enough to rate him alongside Ronnie Earl, Jimmy Thackery and a few others at the top of the blues guitar game.
Stronger Every Day
By Mike Morgan and The Crawl
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
He is back with a new disc, "Stronger Every Day." Since 2000, Morgan has been doing a lot of his own singing, and his new offering mixes things up with guest vocalist Randy McAllister singing five of the 12 vocals, Morgan four, and McBee guesting for three. The songs are almost all Morgan originals.
The disc opens with "All Night Long," with Morgan at the mic, and what he lacks in vocal power is more than made up by his guitar. He has an unusual lead style that somehow blends economy with flash, manages both tone and speed while alternating well-placed silences and swift scales.
McAllister sings "Where is the Love," with keyboards leading the way on a smooth R&B tune a clear highlight that makes good use of his strong voice while giving Morgan an opportunity to show some jazz improvisation. Next up, McBee is aboard for "Sweet Angel," offering a glimpse of the vintage Crawl sound with his deep soul growl (the following tune sung by Morgan sounds a bit thin by comparison). The instrumental "Okie Dokie Stomp" has Morgan firing salvoes of slick blues notes to a brisk beat, and "I Cried for My Baby" combines the axeman in slow blues mode with some more great singing by McBee.
Morgan shows that he may be the cure for those who are tired of hearing the same old riffs after hearing hundreds of slow, similar 12 bar blues lead guitar breaks, taking the solo in directions that the listener won't expect. The 14 tunes here last over 67 minutes, and show many sides of Morgan's ability. "Stronger Every Day" is a generous helping of superb blues and R&B guitar, made even tastier by the contributions of the excellent guest vocalists. Morgan is a master who must be heard to be appreciated.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.