Wednesday, October 26, 2005

CD Review by Mark Dalton

David Brewer and the Intimidators
Crossed Arrows Music

The chorus for one of my favorite tunes on this excellent disc says "You don't know me that well..." and it is true that I don't know David Brewer, the man, that well. We have friends in common however, and I've never heard anything said about Brewer except that he is a good, true friend and a righteous man. What I know better, personally, is David Brewer's music. I remember the first time I ever heard him play very well. It was at one of the Seattle Blues Review shows put on at the old G-Note Tavern out on 85th by promoter Jim Hamilton. I can refresh my memory of this 1977 show, because we got it on tape, including performances by Tom McFarland, Isaac Scott, Kim Field, and a scorching set by David Brewer and his band, Blueseye. He did a tune then called "Texas Strut" that blows me away to this day - all the energy of Freddie King in his Shelter Records prime, with explosive solos that also reflected Brewer's then-recent apprenticeship with Albert Collins - louder than hell, with an edge that cut like a machete. Complex, funky arrangement that turned on a dime. To say I was impressed with Brewer's debut in my musical life that night would be a terrible understatement.

Our paths continued to cross over the years as Brewer settled into the Seattle Blues scene as a major player. I have a tape of a jam in Twist Turner's basement in the north end, just before Twist pushed off for Chicago to seek his fortune, with Brewer, Isaac and Brian Butler all playing guitars together, making a hellacious, wonderful racket - screaming Blues like you rarely hear in a more civilized Seattle of 2005.

I was hanging out on a break at the Salmon Bay Eagles last week when a friend of mine gave me a copy of Brewer's (right, at the Jolly Roger Roadhouse in Seattle in the mid-'80s) new CD and said "here - you have got to have this." Okay...I took it home and put it on, and you know what? This is a really good CD. I mean a really good CD. This is not another local blues band CD - you know what I'm saying - a relatively unadorned, low budget, live in the studio, what-you-hear-is-what-you-get any night out in the clubs type-CD. This is an album of good songs - a mix of covers and original tunes - with creative arrangements, and good engineering and production. Some songs have a very cool wall-of-sound effect - layers of guitars in harmony, a solid horn section that sounds like Phil Spector himself at the board; these are compositions, obviously approached song-by-song with as much time, energy, and creative thinking as necessary given to each one to make the man happy! Listening to this album over and over hearkens back to a time for me when I would anxiously be awaiting a new release from Freddie King, or Albert Collins, or the Allman Brothers Band, and as soon as I had my hands on it, I would just play it non-stop until I'd crawled all the way inside and the cuts were as broken-in and familiar as a good pair of boots.

Brewer's always interesting take on the Blues is strongly in evidence here - listen to what he has done with an old saw like "Walkin' By Myself" - a tune you've heard hundreds of times if you've been around Seattle Blues for any time at all - and yet, with Brewer's able hands and well-worn voice on the job, it sounds fresh and new. Another familiar tune, the old Animal's hit, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," is given new life, in a convincing reading that, like all of Brewer's music, seems to come straight at you, from the heart. One of Chuck Berry's several delightful continental-flavored songs, "You Never Can Tell," gets the full studio treatment here - horns, vocal chorus, big fat sound - and the result works just great in my book.

Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" was perhaps the choice of a song that surprised me the most - but a couple times through and I was sold completely. The ringing guitar chorus, backed by a horn section that will make your feet vibrate, is just a great sound, and Brewer sings this tune with deep soul. As it says on the cover of this satisfying set, "Not everything that counts can be counted..." Believe it! Get it!

Originally from Nebraska, Mark Dalton moved to Seattle in the early '70s. He is an accomplished bassist and stalwart bluesman. He currently plays with the Chris Stevens Band. Photo by Ronda Lee.


Blues Boss said...

Mike - thanks for posting Mark's article/review on David Brewer. I'm looking forward to Brewer's performance @ "Jam for Cans"

Mike Lynch said...

Blues Boss - Please make sure that you take some photos of Brewer at that show, would you? It would be nice to have some recent pics that we could use here in the future. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What a great review of Brewer's latest cd. I agree that it is one of his best...of course I'm his sister so I'm just a bit bias. I wanted to get kind of sappy for a minute and share a little back story about "Into the Mystic" with you; When my granddaughter, Rogue, was barely 3months old David and I would often babysit and when she got fussy the only way we could get her to sleep was if David sang a little Van Morrison,"Into the Mystic" was her personal favorite. Music is a powerful thing and she new what she liked even then...of course, my brother can always deliver the goods, whatever the occasion. Thanks again.
Aloha, Rebecca Brewer