The promotion machine for Hugh Laurie’s forthcoming Let Them Talk CD has revved into high gear, wasting no time in getting the word out about the release of the pre-album single “You Don’t Know My Mind”. The good news is that the three-track single is available for purchase as a download. The bad news is you have to be in Europe to do so.
The European Amazon and iTunes sites are, so far, the only retailers to offer the music for sale. If you’re in the U.S. and want to be a good fan and support the release, those sites will not honor your good intentions (citing geographical licensing restrictions). It remains to be see if this changes any time soon, hopefully way before the September release of the U.S. album.
You can pre-order the album at the official Hugh Laurie Blues website or at Amazon’s U.K. site. Besides being offered as a regular CD, it is now being offered on vinyl and as a deluxe package, which includes the CD, a 44-page book and the “You Don’t Know My Mind” single.
If you’d like a free taste of what’s to come, the Hugh Laurie Blues website has a wonderful mini-documentary on the making of the album, which includes some fine clips of the band and Laurie recording. Laurie’s enthusiasm for the project shines as he speaks glowingly of his fellow musicians and producer Joe Henry. Although Laurie is humble about his involvement, producer Henry is more than happy to throw well deserved accolades his way.
The website also offers a free download of the track “Guess I’m a Fool” in exchange for your email address. “Fool” features Laurie on piano, sounding like a love-struck barroom crooner singing his heart out before last call. Laurie’s voice has a rawness to it that serves his chosen material well. This holds true for the three tracks on the single “You Don’t Know My Mind”.
The title cut, an old Leadbelly stomper, has Laurie growling about the ‘coffee gettin’ cold’ and ‘laughin’ just to keep from cryin’. Joe Henry keeps the production spare and tight with acoustic and slide guitar, mandolin, an upright bass and a some drums to round out the mix. “It Ain’t Necessarily So” is an unexpected addition to the track list. The Gershwin classic gets a blues treatment with an ominous edge that works. “Buddy Bolden’s Blues”, a somewhat obscure tune, is the sole surviving composition of the late jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden. Jelly Roll Morton wrote the lyrics and Laurie does a fine job digging deep into the soul of the down and out narrator to tell the story.
On March 22, Laurie and his band performed a concert for the press in New Orleans famed Latrobe’s on the Royal. A video of three of those live songs aired on the Guardian website and should be available on demand beginning Friday, March 25. The video included Laurie’s powerful rendition of “The Whale Has Swallowed Me”, a unique, smokin’ version of “Swanee River” featuring Laurie’s masterful piano work, as well as a version of “You Don’t Know My Mind”. According to accounts of those who were at the show, Tom Jones and Irma Thomas were along to add their vocal talents to the song “Baby, Please Make a Change”. Sadly, this performance was not on the video but hopefully we’ll be able to see it at some point in the future.
The additional good news for European fans is that Laurie and his band are taking to the road this spring to perform live. Here are the shows scheduled so far:
Berlin, April 28th – Venue: Passionskirche Kreuzberg
Hamburg, April 27th – Venue: Cafe Keese
Cheltenham Jazz Festival, May 2nd – Venue: Town Hall Main Hall (UK)
London, May 4th – Venue: Union Chapel
Paris, May 11th – Venue: Le Trianon
Coventry, May 6th – Venue: Warwick Arts Centre
Manchester, May 7th – Venue: Royal Northern College of Music
That’s all until the next update. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more of the Latrobe show and possibly concert footage once the band takes to the road.