Robert Ealey with Tone Sommer
I Like Music When I Party
Black Top 1138

Robert Ealey is the dapper 71-year-old blues vocalist from Fort Worth. On this follow-up to 1996ís successful Turn Out the Lights, Ealey provides another helping of straight-ahead Texas blues. His high tenor voice delivers wry commentaries on love and life in the í90s.

Following an exuberant introduction by Lou Ann Barton from the stage of the New Bluebird Nite Club in Fort Worth, Ealey starts things off with "Shake Your Butt." No philosophical observations here, just a rousing start to the party, which continues to heat up with "See About Me," a swing blues led by sax man Johnny Reno. (Reno also joins in on "Donít I Love You," a ballad in which Ealey hits the high notes in a pleading voice reminiscent of Percy Mayfield.)

"Somebody been throwiní cigarettes in my backyard/ Baby I donít even smoke Viceroy," Ealey sings in the opening lines of "Is Your Bathroom Clean?" And no, her bathroom is far from sanitary, what with "rats and roaches crawliní all over your commode." Tone Sommer, who gets co-billing on the album, illustrates the descriptions by imitating rodents and vermin on his guitar. Throughout the record, Sommer is a generous and sympathetic accompanist, never overwhelming the vocals.

Perhaps the most unusual song in the set is "Cristena," an original reggae tune, in which Ealey engages in Jamaican-style toasting. Itís out of place but charming and perfectly realized. The most powerful lyric is undoubtedly "Graveyard Blues," in which a homeless man wanders into a cemetery: "And all the dead woke up / Said son you gotta home / Ainít got no heart / Címon lay down on this soft pillow / You give up your hope/ All your worries be over."

But "Graveyard Blues" is the exception on this disc of good-hearted upbeat blues. Ealey likes music when he parties ó and he parties a lot.

ó David Feld

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Boulder, CO, USA.