I’ll Be Around
Sony Music/Funk House Blues Productions
Philipp Fankhauser is a Swiss soul blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He began singing in 1987 and produced his bands first album “Blues for the Lady” in 1989. After touring with Johnny “Clyde” Copeland in 1994 Fankhauser recorded his first solo album. Four of his albums have charted in the top ten on the Swiss album charts. This is Fankhauser’s 15th album overall.
In July of 2017 Fankhauser traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to record at the Malaco Studios. “Dreams do not always come true. But this time I have been very, very privileged. My biggest dream came true; full circle and then some! I’m proud to take credit for convincing my dear friend, multiple Grammy award winning producer and songwriter Dennis Walker, to produce this album at the famed Malaco Studios”. Malaco is a soul blues institution and has waxed albums for Bobby “Blue” Bland, Denise LaSalle, Bobby Rush, Little Milton, Latimore and many others. The album is co-produced by Walker, who also produced five previous albums for Fankhauser, and Wolf Stephenson of Malaco, who along with engineer Kent Bruce, mixed and mastered the session.
The band includes Fankhauser, guitar and vocals; Marco Jencarelli, guitars; Hendrix Ackle, organ and pianos; Angus Thomas, bass; George Lawrence, drums; Tom “Bones” Malone, trombone and horn arrangements; trumpet players Vinnie Ciesielsky and Steve Herman; and saxophonists Doug Moffat, Dennis Solee, and Jim Horn. The background singers are Cindy Walker, Marie Lewey, and Carla Russell, known collectively as the Shoals Sisters.
Fankhauser has written the title track “I’ll Be Around”; and co-written “Big Ol’ Easy” with Ackle. Both “Cryin’ Shame (Can’t Believe My Baby)” and “The Lesson” were written by Fankhauser with Walker. Two more songs are from Walker; “Horse of A Different Color” written with Pete Herzog and featuring Jencarelli on guitar; and “I Fall So Easy” written with Lyn Carter and featuring the background singers. Most of these songs are arranged by Ackle, Thomas, Jencarelli, and Richard Spooner. On these Malone’s horn charts are fabulous. Vocalist Fankhauser’s relaxed phrasing adds to his expressiveness.
Songwriter George Jackson has written many songs, some lesser known. One of them is “Homeless”, beautifully sung by Fankhauser. There is an online video featuring this song, footage of Beale St. in Memphis, and of the recording session down in Jackson.
“Somebody’s Sleepin’ in My Bed” was written by Harrison Calloway, co-founder of the Muscle Shoals Horns and an active arranger and producer at Malaco Records; it is not the Johnnie Taylor song. “When A Fool Takes His Turn” was written by Jackson native Carson Whitsett and recorded by Tommy Tate; Whitsett was also a member of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
“It Tears Me Up” written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham was a hit single for Percy Sledge in 1966. “Only In It For The Money” was the lead track off of Jimmy Smith’s comeback album 2001’s “Dot.Com Blues” written and sung by Dr. John. “Let’s Straighten It Out” was written by Benny Latimore a.k.a. Latimore and appears on his 1974 album of the same name. “My Dog and Me” is from Little Milton Campbell and released as a single on Malaco Records in 1993. These are great performances from Fankhauser.
“Catch Up With The Blues” and the closer “Circumstances” are both from the catalogue of Johnny “Clyde” Copeland. In 2004 Fankhauser released the album “Talk To Me” on Bob Merlis’ Memphis International Records with liner notes written by Shemekia. “I remember first meeting Philipp back in 1994. My dad had met him while on tour in Europe and got to know and like him very much. He invited Philipp to come over and work with him and to stay at our house in Teaneck, N.J. Our family, including my mom Sandra and my brother Tory, had only recently moved there from Harlem. Daddy was kind of notorious for inviting interesting strangers into our house and Philipp fit right in. I’m sure he realized that we were crazy, in a good way, and I know he liked being a part of all that…I thought it was definitely cool for a German speaking Swiss guy to come and live with a Black American family fresh out of Harlem. I’ve always been impressed with Philipp’s musical ability, I mean, he totally has it down! You know, it’s only through the love of music that one can perform it convincingly and clearly …he knows his music as well as anybody. I was always impressed when I first heard him and still am. He’s always done an awesome job interpreting my father’s material.”
Shemekia’s last comment about Fankhauser is even truer today. “Philipp will always be special for just about everyone”.