Blues Bytes Album Review – Al Corté “Mojo”
Blues Bytes – Al Corte’ – Mojo
Veteran singer Al Corte’s debut album, Seasoned Soul, was an excellent set of classic blues and soul tunes lovingly rendered by one of the finest voices currently practicing in the blues and soul genres. The sequel, Mojo, mines much of the same musical territory, but where Seasoned Soul focused on covers, Mojo offers a dozen brand new originals, written by Corte’s musical partner, Ron Miller, with the singer assisting on several tracks.
Oh, yeah, Corte’ also recorded the new album at Royal Studios in Memphis backed by no less than the Hi Rhythm Section (Leroy Hodges – bass, Michael Toles – guitar, Rev. Charles Hodges – B3, and Steve Potts – drums, the Royal Singers, Royal Horns, and Royal Strings, the Tennessee Mass Choir, plus Brad Webb (slide guitar) and John Németh (harmonica), so there’s that, too. Talk about a dream session, this had to be as close to Heaven on Earth as it gets for Corte’! At least it seems that way, based on his performance.
Mojo kicks off with the title track, a horn-driven affair that captures the Memphis sound perfectly, followed by “Love Thang,” a smooth mid-tempo ballad that would have fit nicely on an Otis Clay album, and “Memphis Moon,” a sultry soul burner that gives Corte’ an opportunity to flex his vocal muscles. “I’ll Never Lose My Love for The Blues” is superb, with Brad Webb’s slide guitar backing Corte’, and the funky soul of “Juke Joint Jive” combines horns and Németh’s smoking harmonica.
“Blessed to Have You Near” sounds like vintage Hi Records with those wonderful strings and glorious backing vocals. Corte’ really delivers on this one, and Charles Hodges shines on piano. The optimistic “It’s A Good Day” grooves along with a positive and inspirational message, while the upbeat “I’m Ready” and “Touch” both have a bit of 70’s R&B and pop mixed with soul. “What You Hold” is country soul in the Arthur Alexander tradition and Németh’s harmonica makes another appearance, and “We’re Just a Boy and a Girl” and the closer, “You Hurt Me So Good,” are a fine pair of soul ballad.
At 70, Corte’ sings with the grit, passion, and soul of a man half his age, and really when you’re working with this awesome group of musicians (just hearing Charles Hodges play the B3 gives me goose bumps every time), who never fail to impress or amaze with their superlative musicianship, how could you not give it your very best. That’s just what Al Corte’ does on Mojo and I hope he decides to do it again soon.
Graham Clarke Friday Blues Fix Blog – Blues Bytes