It had been 17 years since The City Boys Allstars got together to play in public when they took to the stage of New York City’s The Cutting Room on August 28, 2013 for a live concert. Blinded by the Night, released last month, is a recording of that concert. Fielding an ensemble of 10 top-flight instrumentalists and three exciting singers, The City Boys play a blend of blues and funk that unites some hot horns driven by a dynamite rhythm section with strong vocals that never grow old—the more you hear them, the better you like them. Moreover, the enthusiastic audience reception in the room that night has everyone pumped and working in top form. Listening to the disc, you can feel the energy in the room. It is an energy that is infectious.
The nine-tune set begins with Robbie Robertson’s “Testimony,” with Bill Kurz taking the vocal and a rocking alto sax solo from Blue Lou Marini, a session talent who has played with outfits like The Blues Brothers and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Kurz also does the vocals on “Strung Out,” which is dedicated to Frankie Paris, one of the band’s original vocalists and “City Boy Blues,” the album’s closing tune with solo work from The City Boys’ leader and guitarist, Mike Merola.
Horace Scott II takes the vocals on a soulful version of the Billie Holiday classic “God Bless the Child,” which contains an intense, blasting solo from trumpeter Lew Soloff and some funk from Merola. Scott also works out on two of his own compositions—“The Vow” and “When You Needed Me.” Angel Rissoff sings on two of his original songs, “Where Have You Been” and the swinging “More Where You Came From.” “Funky Peaches” is the sole instrumental on the album. It features Merola and Soloff, and makes you wonder why they didn’t include a few more instrumental pieces. These guys can play.
The City Boys Allstars are back with a winner. Let’s hope they stick around.
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