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The legendary Robert Cray returns with some excellent live blues.

Music Review: The Robert Cray Band – Cookin’ In Mobile (CD/DVD)

Way back when Robert Cray set out to become an architect. By the mid-seventies, while studying for his chosen profession, he had formed his first band. By 1986 he had won his first Grammy Award for his album Strong Persuader. Architectures loss was The Blues gain.

Now well over thirty years into his career Robert Cray is one of the most respected and commercially successful blues guitarists/singers active today. He has now returned with his third live album and first DVD.

Cookin’ In Mobile (CD + DVD) was recorded at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile, Alabama on February 21, 2010. The CD and DVD contain the same set list and performances. I would have liked better liner notes about the concert and the songs but that is a minor complaint. His current backing band consists of drummer Tony Brannagel, keyboardist Jim Pugh, and bassist Richard Cousins.

The twelve song release is a combination of the old and new. Classics such as “Right Next Door” and “Smoking Gun” combine with current favorites like “I Can’t Fail” and “That’s What Keeps Me Rockin’”

Robert Cray live is different than in the studio. His ability to improvise, change, and bend his songs into new configurations is among the best in modern music today. Comparing his live performances with the studio versions shows just what a guitar virtuoso he can be in a concert setting.

The first two songs set up the rest of the concert and album. “One Last Time” proves it is The Robert Cray Band and not just him alone. The piano work of Jim Pugh plays off Cray’s guitar work and at times he provides some effective leads. “Anytime” is the second track which quickly establishes Robert Cray as the star of the show. He is one of the kings of slow and mid-tempo blues as his guitar solos carry and expand the songs without overwhelming them. He is one of those guitarists who can coax a crystal clear sound from his guitar and emphasize each individual note.

Robert Cray is also in fine vocal form and has the perfect blues voice. It is emotional and conveys his stories well.

The accompanying DVD is a nice addition as you get to see him in action as well as hear home. It also contains behind the scene bonus footage, a photo gallery, and a couple of bonus videos.

Cookin’ In Mobile is a complete and up to date live presentation of one of the best blues artists working today. It is a must for any aficionado of modern day electric blues.

About David Bowling

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