Bill Perry - Greycourt Lightning
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Story by Tony BonyataWhen you've got a successful career backing up a big name artist it's not always easy trying to make a name for yourself. Apparently nobody bothered telling this to 38 year old singer / songwriter / guitarist Bill Perry.
Perry, who hails from upstate New York, backed up the seventies-era folk / soul man Richie Havens as lead guitarist for years before deciding it was high time to step into the limelight for himself. He did this with the 1995 release of Love Scars, a gutsy blues album, laced with rock and old school R&B, which showcased not only his rich, earthy vocals but explained why Havens hired him in the first place, for his ferocious guitar-work.
Now on his second release, Greycourt Lightning, Perry has built on the solid foundation that he laid down on Love Scars by expanding his sound with the additions of piano, horns and the breathy Hammond B3 organ without ever leaving behind the bluesy grit of it's predecessor.
Getting things started on the opening number "Gettin' Down" Perry leaves third degree burn marks over an exuberant horn section and honky-tonk piano with his stinging guitar work. On "In Pain" he delivers his soulful, Otis Redding-soaked vocals on this song that sound as if Robert Cray had written it for him. With a James Brown-style funk, complete with deep-fried, greasy horns, Perry serves up a lip smackin' version of Carl Perkins "Blue Suede Shoes."
Further influences can be heard on "Sneaking Around" a slowed-down blues number obviously inspired by Jimi Hendrix' "Red House", while the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar haunts the rousing, road-house rocker "Roll With Me."
Although Greycourt Lightning focuses more on a tough, modern, urban-style blues, songs such as the simple "Trust In You" and "Evil Woman" reflects Perry's passion for Mississippi Delta flavored blues. Perry also covers blues-icon Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen" in which he transforms this simple, eloquent folk song into a funky, R&B free-for-all.
Greycourt Lightning finds Bill Perry emerging out of the shadows of others, ready to cast a few of his own.
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