Like peanut butter and jam, like fall and football, pairing Anson Funderburgh, a young white guitar slinger from Texas, with the late Sam Meyers, a big, black, almost-blind harmonica player and blues vocalist extraordinaire, must have seemed like a stroke of genius at the time.
Ansonâ€™s Rockets were looking for a new vocalist following the departure of Darrrell Nulisch, and Meyers hadnâ€™t recorded much for years. These 1984 sessions for the late, lamented Black Top label, here re-released on HepCat records, capture the beginnings of a partnership that lasted over twenty years, until Samâ€™s death in 2006.
Funderburgh comes straight from the school of lean, clean, and dangerously mean guitar, that quintessentially tough Texas sound that never wastes a note. Meyers — who began his career as a drummer behind Elmore James — was equally understated. His big, booming voice possessed of an unquestionable authority, while his harmonica work, all slippery and slurry, was always unconventional yet invariably spot-on.
Backed here by Funderburghâ€™s working band of the time, with Doug Rynack on piano, Rory MacLeod on bass, and Wes Starr on drums, the two romp through a set that combines originals - most from Meyers but a few Funderburgh credited as co-writer â€“ with well-chosen covers from the likes of Willie Dixon (â€śEverythingâ€™s Gonna Be Alrightâ€ť), Chuck Berry (â€śWee Wee Hoursâ€ť), and the aforementioned Mr. James (â€śTake Me Where You Goâ€ť). Shuffles predominate, but the band gives each tune enough of a twist to add rhythmic variety and keep things consistently engaging.
Some find the blues a restrictive format, its parameters narrow and stifling. This is one of those outings that refutes that argument, transcending genre through sheer force of personality. Sure, it all falls within twelve-bar convention; but Sammy Meyers has such an imposing presence, brings such inherent dignity and towering majesty to every note, that it becomes an individual statement, not a retread of tired forms. And Funderburgh proves an ideal foil, darting in and out with stinging notes and tough, economical leads placed just right.
Meyers and Funderburgh would go on to release numerous discs together but My Love Is Here To Stay, with Meyers firmly out front, remains one of their best. There are no bonus tracks here (most of Hepcatâ€™s Black Top Reissues do include at least a couple of unreleased cuts) but the packagingâ€™s exemplary, liner notes are expanded a bit, and the sound has greater clarity and definition than the original issues.
An absolutely wonderful disc, itâ€™s great to see this one back in print. If you missed it first time round, donâ€™t make the same mistake twice!