Mem Shannon,
Live: A Night at Tipitina's
(NorthernBlues, 2007)

Mem Shannon's Live: A Night at Tipitina's is about the music. Yes, there are moments when you can hear the audience, too, but that doesn't happen all that often. The music is very good, sometimes the blues, sometimes funk and at other times a bit of both.

The CD starts off with the introduction at the venue and goes right into the first song, "Payin' My Dues." While the song is largely instrumental, with those hooks you don't need to sing. Mem switches over to the funky side of the blues for "Smell Something," and the lyrics are also a treat. He keeps on rolling with "No Religion."

You have got to pay attention to the lyrics of "Who Are They," while the music continues to cut its own swath blending the blues and funk. Sometimes love songs are about places or cities, and "All I Have" is one of these. The song has a slower tempo than much of what came before it. "I Won't Back Down" is a song you have to take for what it is and not for what it isn't. What it is, is pretty good, even if it feels different from the version I know best.

He returns to singing about music in "No Such Thing" and, fittingly, the song is funk. The tempo slows down again for "Forget About Me," and the lyrics slide to the sadder side of the blues. The music heads back to the funkier side of things for "Voodoo." The various solos also give way to each other quite smoothly. He eases into "Phunkville," but soon the sound develops its full flair. There is a moment of "Did he just do that," a bit past the halfway point, and I had to do a quick rewind to hear that yes, he did.

Mem Shannon proves that while live is best, live recordings are the next best thing with this CD.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Paul de Bruijn

4 December 2010

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