Standing Room Only
Ruf S1416 1392 2
Larry Garner has done an engaging disc, though "engaging" from a songwriter from whom profundity is expected is something of a short shrift.
Not all the cuts are blues. "Do Your Personal Thing" is reggae and "The Strangerís Blues" a ballad, the dark subject of which deserves a real lyric (this oneís merely flash cards) and back-up vocalists who do not coo but sing. On firmer footing are such true-blue cuts as the stompiní "Out in the Country" that laments the very real problem of how theft in the boonies has gotten as bad as it is in the cities.
Garnerís accompaniment is for the most part sparse: bass, drums, keyboards ó of which the latter come off poorly in a mix that makes the Hammond B-3 sound like one of those digital "workstations" designed to replicate it! That sonic flaw badly wounds the opener, a lively blues called "A Driving Woman." A stop-time tromper with cawing harp is "Keep the Money." "Drifter" and "Cold Chills" are slow blues of the sort youíve heard innumerable times before; "PMS" has a nudge-wink lyric that likely gets a roar in night clubs, though certain women will dub it crass.
But rest assured, Standing Room Only will be cited for its great and topical lyrics. True fans of Garner and the blues in toto should find little glee in this, as it will highlight how blues songwriting has drooped to such vapidity of late. Garner and his pen can gain a plaudit for an effort that by his standards, is pennyweight.
ó Tim Schuller