Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Gus Spenos: “It’s Lovin’ I Guarantee” (2018) CD Review

The country entered a dark, disturbing and ugly era when it allowed Donald Trump and his racist gang of incompetent assholes to begin occupying the White House. Things have become awful out there, and seem to be getting worse. But, man, you’d never know it listening to the new CD from Gus Spenos, It’s Lovin’ I Guarantee. This music shouts joyously, almost defiantly, that things are good. And it’s not long before I’m a believer. There is nothing like some swing to lift us from the mire, and this disc certainly does swing. Those horns will take us right out of the dank, incestuous hole of Trump’s administration. In fact, I believe they could lead us safely out of the apocalypse. Something in me is convinced that the right song could put an end to Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the rest of those fascist bastards, that it would cause them to implode. This CD may very well contain that song. I’m not sure which song, so play them all. Gus Spenos is a talented saxophone player and vocalist, and he has assembled a fantastic group of players for this album. It’s Lovin’ I Guarantee might be just exactly what we need today.

The album gets off to an excellent start with its title track, written by Gus Spenos and pianist Collin DeJoseph. “I’ll make you happy/It’s lovin’ I guarantee.” No question that he can make us happy. This track makes me happy almost from its opening notes. This song moves right along at a good clip, blowing joy our way, and pushing away everything else. Seriously, it’s like the music is able to clear away the muck and grime of the nation, creating space for dancing and happiness. That’s followed by “She Walked Right In,” a tune written by Thomas T.N.T. Tribble. “Well, I done found out you don’t love me no more/Well, I’m packing my drift bag, going right out your door.” Ah, when does finding out that a woman no longer loves you sound so damn good? I seriously dig that bass line, that this song also features some fun backing vocals, as well as more great work on horns.

One of my absolute favorites on this disc is “Fool’s Blues,” a song by Jimmy Rushing. It’s cool in the way that “Minnie The Moocher” is cool. Great vocal performance, delicious work on horns, and plenty of attitude. How can anyone help but love this? “Yes, I know I’m a fool/But what am I going to do?” That’s followed by another great number, “Every Tic’s Got A Toc,” an original tune by Gus Spenos and Collin DeJoseph. Oh, those horns! “Don’t run to your future/It’s going to get here anyhow/It won’t be long ‘til you reach it/Then it all becomes right now.” Things get gloriously bluesy with “Livin’ Is A Crime,” another original track written by Gus Spenos and Colin DeJoseph, and another of the CD’s highlights. The first lines are “Too much drinking, baby/And I don’t sleep like I should.” Well, that describes basically everyone I know since the election. The whole country has the blues. “Yes, it’s been a long time, people, since things made any sense at all/Oh, I get up in the morning, then I just wait for night to fall.” I love this! And that horn is powerful and sexy.

“Lil’ Dog” is a delicious and joyful instrumental track, originally done by Buddy Johnson And His Orchestra. That’s followed by a wonderful rendition of “I’m Gone,” originally recorded by Billy Brooks And His Orchestra in the 1950s. As much as I love the horns on this album, that section with guitar and organ is one of my favorite parts of this track. This excellent disc concludes with “Got Myself A Diamond,” an original tune featuring some delightful backing vocals and more great work from the horn section. “Whenever we’re together, it’s my bell that’s going to ring.”

CD Track List
  1. It’s Lovin’ I Guarantee
  2. She Walked Right In
  3. Hush Baby Don’t You Cry
  4. Fool’s Blues
  5. Every Tic’s Got A Toc
  6. The Blind Boy
  7. Livin’ Is A Crime
  8. Lil’ Dog
  9. I’m Gone
  10. Have Mercy Baby
  11. Hey Girl
  12. Kind Loving Daddy
  13. Got Myself A Diamond 
It’s Lovin’ I Guarantee is scheduled to be released on March 1, 2018.

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