"Live at North Start 2009"
Purchase at www.AndyAledort.com
Appeared in More Sugar, April 2010
CD review by Roger-Z (03/12/10)
My how times change. If this was the 70's, a major label such as Capricorn would have released Andy Aledort and the Groove King's "Live at North Star 2009." It would have spent a year on the Billboard album charts and gone multi-platinum. Unfortunately, blues rock has fallen out of favor. So much the worse for us. I can listen to this record over and over and find new meaning with each hearing. Maybe that's because Andy Aledort teaches rock stars such as Joe Perry of Aerosmith how to play the blues. Maybe because he plays guitar in Dickie Betts (of Allman Brothers fame) band. Maybe because he replaced Jimi Hendrix in The Band of Gypsies for a Japanese Tour. Or maybe because he's been the senior editor of Guitar World Magazine for seemingly forever. No matter what the reason, "Live at North Star 2009" captures Aledort at the peak of his vocal, instrumental, and improvisational powers. He proves himself a "Master of the Stratocaster."
Aledort does it with the help of a transcendent group featuring Mike DiMeo (keyboards, vocals), Dennis Metzler (bass), and Vito Luizzi and Richard Rosch (drums). "Groove Kings" proves an apt name for this band. Solid and in the pocket. Andy Aledort sings lead in a burnished, deep baritone. Mike DiMeo joins him on harmonies and impassioned soul interjections, much like Lou Rawls did for Sam Cooke. The CD opens with a funky version of Freddie King's "Big Leg Woman." Aledort should be arrested for the way he slaps the crap out of his Strat! Mike Dimeo burns a hole in the ozone layer with his incendiary organ sound. I love when they trade riffs. "I Don't Need No Doctor" borrows the John Scofield/John Mayer arrangement and features Hendrix-like octave playing and a sensitive give and take solo with keyboardist Mike Dimeo. On B.B. King's Gambler's Blues, Aledort doubles his bass vocal with lead guitar, a very sexy effect. He then whips out his slide and demonstrates his prowess.
I find it nearly impossible to select "highlights" from this album. But I can pick a favorite -- Aledort's original, "Right By Your Side." It sounds like a sixties soul ballad, something that Otis Redding could have performed. It opens with a beautiful Hendrix/Mayfield mini-chord solo. DiMeo and Aledort lay down killer vocals. Dramatic stops heighten the intensity of the mood. And then Aledort explodes in a Hendrix-like splattering of licks. Albert King's "Wrapped Up in Love Again" proves an apt vehicle for some very funky R&B styled riffs. Once again, I love the way DiMeo's bluesy vocals complement Aledort's deep voice. DiMeo shines with an electric piano solo that shaves the beat. On the album's other original, "Do You Have A Sister," Aledort's guitar rides the beat like a surfer riding a wave, sliding more and more notes into the groove until he just explodes.
Through out the record, the drummers (one per cut) and bassist do an excellent job of both propelling and responding to the rhythms of the soloists. Andy Aledort performs like a trapeze artist with a net -- always willing to push that extra inch knowing that his band will catch him if he falls.
Aspiring young musicians should immediately hop on-line and buy this CD. Then spend a year learning every lick! I put this record in the category of Al Kooper's "Super Session" (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills), The Allman Brothers "Live at The Fillmore East," and "Frampton Comes Alive." I can't give much higher praise than that.