King Solomon Hicks
Provogue/Mascot Label Group
Twenty-five year old Solomon Hicks is from New York Cities upper west side. He started playing guitar at the age of six. When he was fourteen he recorded “Embryonic” with the seventeen-piece Cotton Club All-Star Band, and toured Europe and Japan. His first mentor was Melvin Sparks. The guitarist has performed with Tony Bennett, Bruce Springsteen, George Thorogood, Marcus King, Jimmy Vivino, Sam Moore, William Bell, John Nemeth, Kim Simmonds, and Eric Gales, just to name a few. He has opened for Jeff Beck and toured with Beth Hart. This is his solo debut.
Producer Hicks, guitar and vocals, is accompanied by keyboardists Neal Evans and Tommy Mandel; bassist Kirk Yano; and drummers Jeff Simon, Alan Evans or Donald Krueger. Additional percussion is provided by Altor Corral and Javier Alonso. The album was recorded by co-producer Yano at Studio 99 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
This is an eclectic collection of songs. Hicks opens with “I’d Rather Be Blind” written by Leon Russell, and recorded by Freddie King in 1972 on Russell’s Shelter Records; the band, Evans’ B-3 and Hicks’ Robert Cray type vocal are outstanding. “Every Day I Have The Blues” was written by twin brothers Aaron “Pinetop” Sparks and Milton Sparks and originally recorded in 1935 on Bluebird Records; B.B. King recorded a re-arranged version that became his theme, and the song was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2019; the lyric is changed to “every day I sing the blues”.
My favorite “What The Devil Loves”, was written by Thomas Burke Bishop Jr. a.k.a. Burke Junior and Fred Koller and recorded in 2007; Eric Krasno joins Hicks on 2nd guitar. “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” was written by Al Kooper in 1968 when he fronted Blood, Sweat and Tears; this is another subdued vocal with Calum Ingram added on Cello.
“Headed Back To Memphis” and “Have Mercy on Me” are from songwriter and film composer Frankie Vinci; on the former Mike Daly is added on slide guitar. Ryan Zoidis’ tenor sax opens the instrumental “Love Is Alive” originally written and recorded by Gary Wright in 1976. “It’s Alright” is from British singer-songwriter Christopher Fredrick Andrews.
Two more instrumentals were written by Hicks: the cookin’ “421 South Main”, and the guitar driven “Riverside Drive”. The album closes with “Help Me”, written by Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Ralph Bass and recorded by Sonny Boy in 1963.
Hick’s understated guitar and vocals make him well worth listening to and watching. This is an excellent debut album.