Tryin’ To Get To You
Eller Soul Records
The R n’ B and roots music legends, The Nighthawks, were first formed in 1971. They recorded their debut album in 1974. My favorite recordings of theirs include 1986’s “Hard Living” with Jimmy Thackery; 1996’s “Pain and Paradise”; and 2009’s “American Landscape”. In 2014 they signed with their current label Eller Soul Records. This is their fourth album for the label and thirty-first overall.
The current members include founder Mark Wenner, harmonica and vocals; Mark Stutso (who joined in 2009), drums and vocals; and two new members Dan Hovey, guitars and vocals; and Paul Pisciotta, bass and vocals. Wenner states that the two previous members decided to no longer tour, and that Pisciotta “was no stranger to the band and he and Stutso…quickly became a rock solid and swinging rhythm section virtually overnight. Both Stutso’s own vocal harmony and Dan’s relaxed yet powerful baritone have taken the three-and-four-part harmony to new heights.” The album was recorded and mixed by David Earl at his Severn Sound Studio.
“Come Love” written by Marion “Doc” Oliver and James Bracken, the owner of Vee Jay Records, was recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960, and a single for Ronnie Hawkins in 1961. The Nighthawks version is a duet between Wenner and Stutso and a great way to open the album.
Wenner sings lead on the title track, “Tryin’ To Get To You”, written by Charles Singleton and Rose Marie McCoy, and recorded by Elvis Presley on his 1956 self-titled debut. He sings again on “Searchin’ For My Baby”, recorded by The Manhattan’s in 1965; and on “Luscious” from James Faye “Roy” Hall.
Stutso tales the lead vocal on James Brown’s “Tell Me What I Did Wrong”; on Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier’s soul classic “Chairman of The Board”, a 1971 hit single, by the vocal group of the same name; and on two originals, “I Hate A Nickel” and “Somethin’s Cookin’” written with his writing partner Norman Nardini.
Guitarist Hovey sings lead on five more songs. T-Bone Walkers “I Know Your Wig Is Gone” first recorded in 1947; Hank Ballard’s “Rain Down Tears” from 1959; Los Lobos “Don’t Worry Baby”, and on two of his own songs ”Baby It’s Time” and “The Cheap Stuff”.
The Nighthawks will be celebrating their fiftieth anniversary sometime next year. During their half century they have experienced many ups and downs. Once again the band is peaking with both new found vocal harmonies and creative songwriting. Always mixing their own originals with selected covers they continue to be among our best loved ensembles.