Jimmy actually started drums at an early age and discovered the Beatles and other bands of that era. Soon after, he started playing guitar which opened a new musical world. Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Blues Breakers became the musical foundation for him as he started his first band, “The Silence” and then his power trio “Jax.” His guitar mentor, “Fast Freddie” Rapillo has been working with Jimmy for a number of years. After watching a Buddy Guy/Johnny Lang concert, Jimmy was inspired to form a professional band of seasoned musicians with diverse musical backgrounds and experience. Blue On Arrival features Gary Swan – keys, Jon Fowler – producer, Melvin Brannon – bass, David Daniel Diaz – drums.
This is a pretty good blend of trad blues and adult contemporary rock. The harmonica on the opening track helps render it one of the best of all nine of this mixed bag of more covers than originals. It’s all good stuff but it starts out a lot tougher than it tends to get throughout as it winds down to the last blues drops. The power and potential comes on hard with that song “Murder” with its naturally very macabre vibe. This is killer and there is no doubting that much. Jimmy isn’t what you’d expect in the age group department, then again there are tons of young blues players that would surprise anyone who heard them.
The track is a classic tale of loneliness, with what is also some smoking hot piano. A whole lot can be said about that but it gets even better on “Hit My Stride” with some big fat grooves to wrap your feet around and get moving a little. This is all attitude and moxie, mellowed with a little laid back touch. It’s everything you’d expect from a southern rock blues artist, and blends in properly with the whole collection. Some decent wah wah applied in the solo really seals the deal here. This is one killer song and he does it all the justice in the world. The bass player is excellent on this whole CD, and goes a long way in carrying it. This is probably my favorite along with the opening track. Both are undeniably awesome.
There are many covers in the mix but they aren’t the obvious choices, with the exception of “Crossroad Blues.” It blends in nicely and you get the live feel between tracks like this and his own stuff, and that’s a good description of the track arrangement and why it works. A great vocal performance to be heard, probably a highlight of the platter. And the laid back pace of “Rock Me Down” is yet another hot spot. This is where things get really groovy and get you moving. A very cool song to kick back or even dance to. This is another one with a crushing bass line and some great bottom end keys provided. A slick guitar solo follows and the message comes back around and perfection is all but had, and then they do it again. Maximum contemporary blues rock is the result. No questioning the situation, this guy is going somewhere.
Even if “Poison” isn’t up your alley with its more slow-paced factor, it still contains premium musicianship and a lot of drama. Take it or leave it, it’s still a fine delivery of misery. They know how to play together and once again it keeps a live feel as it goes, I can even imagine seeing this live. “I Can’t Stop” gets even more in the same vein and it’s actually more like it, as the energy and power reach a high point. Some of the best guitar playing on display happens on this track. More great stuff no matter who’s doing the songwriting on this album. Great harmonica on this and several others as well. I consider it one of the biggest moments and there is no shortage of them. And after all that heat, things cool down considerably on “Poor One,” and it’s a good change of pace with a haunting vocal turned in.
It almost runs the risk of dampening the mood too much, but that is rectified on “Best I Could” because it drives the mood further along and makes the overall point. This is actually a chilling track that gives way to the closing piece, entitled “Stuck In Glue,” which brings the tempo back up a notch but stays acoustic oriented. And the playful side comes out and ends things on a good note, even if it is based on a depressing subject. It doesn’t matter, he makes the best of it and everyone on this CD brought out the best in it, despite too many covers, although well performed, and not enough songs on top of that is all that is possibly missing. In-fact I look forward to as much of this band as I can get. I hope they stick to this format but lay off the covers and rely on originals because they’re way better on their own.
I still rate it high because of the performances. And these days people do want familiarity and sometimes the genre itself is not enough, you have to push beyond expectations to even get minimal results. I think Blue On Arrival is a big step in the right direction.