Speaking of ROBERT CRAY, I haven't been what you'd call a fan of his music—it was always a bit sweet, smooth and homogenized for my tastes. I expect intensity above all other qualities from a blues artist; that's the element that always removes the boredom quotient from so inherently limited a genre as the blues.
That said, Cray's latest, Take Your Shoes Off, pretty much pleases my grumpy old ears anyway. That's because this is a full-on soul album rather than blues; soul has always been integral to Cray's style, but here he jumps into the form head-on. The influences are obvious: "Love Gone to Waste" is like something straight out of a '70s session for Hi Records (and legendary Hi producer Willie Mitchell arranges here); "That Wasn't Me" is a straight cop on the Otis Redding Stax formula; "All the Way" sounds like a classic Gamble/Huff Philly soul ballad; "There's Nothing Wrong" sounds like Ruffin-era Temptations in its Motown bounce. Very nice stuff, indeed; perhaps Cray has belatedly found his niche on the independent Ryko label following years on the major Mercury. All reservations aside, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Robert Cray together in one night should make for a very entertaining concert.
The Robert Cray Band performs with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Sun Theatre, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Thurs., Feb. 3, 8 p.m. $35-$45. All ages.