Here in Babylon
The original Rhythm Tramps were formed in 1970 by Terry Wilson and Tony Braunagel. Teresa James is originally from the Houston, Tx. area but has long resided in Los Angeles. In 2000 she released her first recording “Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps: Live”. The following year she released the “Whole Enchilada” and in 2003 “Oh Yeah”. These albums have each been re-issued several times as all of her albums are in demand. James’ fifth album 2007’s “Bottom Line” resulted in her being nominated for a 2008 Blues Music Award as Contemporary Blues Female Artist of The Year. James’ last album was “Bonafide” released in 2016.
The current Rhythm Tramps lineup includes James, piano, Wurlitzer and vocals; her husband Terry Wilson, bass and vocals; Billy Watts, guitar and vocals; Mike Finnigan, Hammond B-3; and Jay Bellarose, drums and percussion. The horn section includes Darrell Leonard, trumpet, trombone and horn arrangements; and Joe Sublett, saxophone.
James’ tenth album features twelve new originals written or co-written by Wilson. The opener “I Know I Ain’t Been So Perfect” has a soul groove with a bass line by Wilson bordering on ska. James has been called a singer’s singer as her style draws comparison to both Bonnie Raitt and Lou Ann Barton; her voice is both sweet and salty. The funky title track features Watt’s slide guitar and some big time beats from Bellarose.
The horn section of Leonard and Sublett decorate the New Orleans inspired “Give Me A Holler”; and the Memphis R & B of “Head Up, Heart Open”. Leonard’s trumpet is featured again on “You Had To Bring That Up”.
Both “I Keep Drifting Away” and “Hold On” deal with relationships; the latter featuring Finnigan on the B-3. “Ground Zero” is a re-telling of Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil; while “21st Century Man” is a gospel rocker.
“The Day The Blues Came To Call” is an emotional tribute to the late Greg Allman. The closer “Find Me A Bar” is a good time celebration featuring a classic Bo Diddley beat courtesy of Bellarose.
James’ substantial vocal skills are highlighted on this co-produced album by her and Wilson. This recording should garner James the additional recognition she deserves.