Johnny Tucker is the tenth child born of nineteen siblings to a seasonal sharecropper and his wife. His interest in music began when he would sit on the porch and listen to his father play the guitar for his mother. Johnny started playing drums and was first influenced by Lowell Fulson’s record Black Knight. He learned the music by listening and playing along with the songs. He listened to James Brown records and learned to play his tunes too. Johnny first came to Los Angeles in 1964, where he hooked up with Phillip Walker as a featured singer doing a James Brown act singing top ten hits of the times. Later, he became a drummer with Walker’s band and began traveling the world for the next 34 years.
Along the way, he played with other great artists such as Floyd Dixon, Robert Cray, Johnny Otis, The Five Royals, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Lowell Fulson and Johnny Copeland. Johnny has traveled and performed extensively in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe. In 1967 Johnny met James “Broadway” Thomas while they were playing with the Johnny Otis band. In 1997 these two teamed up and put out an album titled Stranded.
Tucker returns with his second album on HighJohn Records, Seven Day Blues, the first being the 2006 release, Why You Lookin’ At Me?Label chief Bob Auerbach teamed up the legendary blues showman with Big Jon Atkinson and his crew at Big Tone Studios in Hayward, CA for a series of sessions in the summer of 2017. The resulting collection of 15 new tracks is a treasure trove of classic R&B and Chicago-style blues, with a neo-retro Sun Studio tube amp feel that gives his “big as all outdoors” vocals a smooth warmth in a loving, live recording setting. Atkinson gathered together a house band of himself, Troy Sandow, and Scott Smart, who traded off on guitars and bass along with drummers Malachi Johnson and Marty Dodson. He set them all up in one big room, surrounded by vintage gear, with Tucker in the center who taught the players the essence of the blues and his vision for each song, capturing the sound, energy and magic of the moment direct to tape. A few select guests were brought in to add spice and flair to the already sublime tracks. Harmonica master Bob Corritore shares harp duties with Sandow on half the album, while Bob Welch added organ and Kid Ramos and his guitar make an appearance for one cut.
The album opens with the jump and shout two beat ‘Talkin’ About You Baby,’ with Tucker delivering his Howlin’ Wolf bravado that sets the tone for the entire album. Chicago Blues shuffle ‘Tired Of Doing Nothing,’ follows and features the first of many great blues harp and hot lead guitar solos. Corritore joins in on the low down slow blues ‘Why Do You Let Me Down So Hard,’ that has Tucker playing the part of a man who’s been done wrong. The sweet soul of ‘Love And Appreciation (To Georgia)’ has a distinct Sam Cooke feel to its easy swing, and the title track, ‘Seven Day Blues,’ is a deep funk prototype with Sandow and Smart trading rhythm lines over a fat groove. Tucker pleads his case on the straight-ahead R&B broiler ‘Come On Home With Me,’ and David “Kid” Ramos delivers his signature West Coast rockabilly guitar style on the jump blues ‘Tell You All.’ Tucker reinvents the Big Boss Man form into a song of true love for ‘Something I Want To Tell You,’ and then stretches out his vocal skills on the 12/8 blues ‘Gonna Give You One More Chance.’ The classic boogaloo beat of ‘I Wanna Do It,’ the greasy shuffle of ‘Do-Right Man,’ and the slinky second line rhumba of ‘I Can’t Wait,’ will fill any dance floor. The ballad ‘One Of These Days’ is a fine traditional blues ballad with impeccable raunchy guitar. Tucker takes us to church for a lesson on hope and joy for ‘Listen Everybody.’ The session comes to an emotional climax on the slow burning finale ‘You Can Leave My House,’ with Tucker leaving it all on the mat, pouring out his very heart and soul for one last time.
The sessions for Seven Day Blues may be considered a “throw back,” or “old school,” approach by some, but the skill and expert care taken by Atkinson to record Johnny Tucker and his music, captured the true essence of a real blues man in his element, for all eternity.
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