Barrence Whitfield & The Savages: Soul Flowers Of Titan (Bloodshot Records)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This ain’t your daddy’s blues. This is blues on steroids or HGH. Yes, it is blues, but Barrence and crew take it to new frontiers. There is definitely a healthy infusion of punk rock and even some jazz. Barrence and his crew know how to get the maximum amount of value and effect out of their instruments. Everything goes back to the blues, but this definitely has a lot more teeth and aggression that most of blues going around. This is blues you could slam dance to, if you were into that kind of thing.
Even if slam dancing isn’t your thing, there will be no denying the energy that is released during a Barrence Whitfield & The Savages performance. Barrance takes the lead in this endeavor and he takes no prisoners when he is fronting. He leaves everything on stage, where it belongs.
Whitfield has definitely made his bones, performing since the mid 70s. He was given the name Barry White at birth, but there was already a superstar named Barry White, which led to the stage name, Barrence Whitfield. Barrence has been recording and performing for over 30 years and is well known for his high energy stage shows and uncompromising performances. The Savages definitely live up to their names when they are on the stage.
Most of the songs on this album are blues that have been fused with other elements and instruments. The one song that represents almost pure blues would have to beAdorable (Track 8). If I close my eyes, I swear I see Howling Wolf before me, bellowing into the microphone. But no, it isn’t Chester Burnett, it is Barrence Whitfield who is carrying the torch for blues and pushing the boundaries forward.
Barrence also has a sense of humor. For instance,Tall, Black And Bitter (Track 3)is about coffee. Definitely a play on words as Barrence cleverly sings his homage to java. This is a true example where you cannot judge a book by its cover. Or more appropriately, you can’t judge a song by its title.
The album concludes on a very very high note with the songSay What You Want (Track12). This masterpiece takes blues to places it hasn’t been for a while. This song is very reminiscent of the electric R&B in the late 60s and early 70s when rock and soul were having growing pains. This R&B power ballad is nothing short of spectacular. Makes me think of the late great Otis Redding. The B3 solos in this song take it to the moon and back.
Like I wrote earlier, this is not just blues. This is blues cubed. Blues to the third power. The creativity and pure energy of Soul Flowers Of Titan make this a joy to listen to. I keep hitting the repeat button this one. This is the fastest 33 minutes I have ever spent in my life. And it was worth every second. Let’s go again….Track 1……