CD Review: Blue Lunch “Above the Fold”

W139-Blue-Lunch-Above-the-Fold-OUTLINES no guidesBlue Lunch is one of the best known ensembles in the city of Cleveland. Throughout the years that the band has been together, the band has changed their style to fit whatever mood they’re in at the time. Sometimes bluesy, sometimes jazzy, sometimes old-timey, Blue Lunch has taken on that style and been very entertaining to watch. As of late, the band has taken much of those styles and created one sound that incorporates all of those influences and more into one sound that seems to satisfy the pickiest of musical connoisseurs.

Having already created a musical library that includes the ever-changing sound of the band, the eight-piece ensemble has recently put out their latest album. That album is entitled Above the Fold.

The new album from Blue Lunch begins with a track that features a bluesy style to the music. “Ain’t Trying to Kill Nobody” is an original track written by guitarist/vocalist Bob Frank and features an old-fashioned style of blues to the music. The track brings the listener back to the early days of recorded music when the singers would sing of real pain. This track proves that Blue Lunch embodies both the current day influences as well as the more classic sounds.

Above the Fold from Blue Lunch continues with the track “One Fine Day,” a track written by saxophone player Chris Burgh. When “Ain’t Trying to Kill Nobody” shows off the band’s ability to play the blues, “One Fine Day” takes the group into a more jazzy direction. The track showcases the playing abilities of Burgh, trumpet player Mike Rubin, trombone player Bob Michael as well as Pete London, the harmonica player and singer of the group. As a result, the track feels as if it is entrenched in a track that is closer to classic jazz than to smooth jazz. The track allows the listener to hear the jazz influences that exist within the various members of the band.

Switching from one style to the next is what Blue Lunch is known for nowadays. Having already played blues and jazz, the band switches directions once again to bring yet another style into the mix on the Above the Fold album. With the original composition of “Everybody’s on the Phone,” the band brings a little Rhythm and Blues influence to the album. In fact, the music brings to mind the sound and style of Lavern Baker and her classic track of “Jim Dandy”. While Baker’s classic song focuses more on the rhythm & blues sound, “Everybody’s on the Phone” features more of a “jump blues” feel as the band adds a generous amount of horn section to the music.

Blue Lunch returns to the music back to the blues with the track “Woman I Bleed”. For the first half of the track, the band creates a track that features a slow pace to the music and that adds a lot of feeling to the blues in the lyrics. When the band picks up the pace for several measures, the music feels more like rhythm & blues than the blues. The two styles of music within the one track add some variety to the music.

Taking the style of the music back several decades or more, the track “No Time like the Present” is yet another instance on the new release from Blue Lunch where the band shows the styles of music that have influenced their playing and composing styles. Chris Burge’s original track sounds as if it should have been found on an old 78 RPM gramophone record. In fact, with the music having been recorded in stereo, the whole track seems a bit off. “No Time like the Present” is one track by Blue Lunch that helps keep the styles of the past alive.

Within the 15 tracks that make up the newest release from Blue Lunch, there are a few tracks that find the band creating new arrangements to older tracks. Songs like Dave Bartholomew’s “Love No More” and “Tossin’ & Turnin’ & Burnin’ All Up Inside” from Andre Williams find the band exploring the older side of rhythm & blues. These two tracks, as well as several of the original compositions on the album, find the band pushing the limits of their musical sound.

Blue Lunch has created a new release in Above the Fold that shows off the band’s ability to play a variety of styles. The resulting release is as entertaining as actually seeing the band perform in concert.

For more information, check out Rip Cat Records, the band’s label.

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