The Proven Ones
You Ain’t Done
Gulf Coast Records
The Proven Ones released their debut recording “Wild Again” in 2018. The all-star ensemble is led by Jimi Bott, drums. Bott has twenty Blues Music Award nominations for Best Instrumentalist – Drums, winning that award in 2015. His longtime partner Willie J. Campbell has four of his own for Best Instrumentalist-Bass. From 1993 to 2002 they were the rhythm section for The Fabulous Thunderbirds and were re-united in 2010 when they became the foundation for the Mannish Boys and appear on that bands last three recordings. The lead guitarist for the Thunderbirds during that same nine-year period was Kid Ramos and he holds 13 BMA nominations including six for Best Instrumentalist – Guitar. Anthony Geraci, a longtime member of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones, holds thirteen BMA nominations including four as the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year. Their front man, vocalist Brian Templeton, was the leader of the Boston based Radio Kings from 1995 to 2009 and recorded four albums with them including the Radio Kings 1998 Bullseye Blues Records “Money Road”. With over 100 years of combined experience it’s no surprise that The Proven Ones debut recording received its own 2019 BMA nomination as Best Contemporary Blues Recording.
While “Wild Again” included several originals it featured predominately obscure covers. This mostly original sophomore outing stretches the boundaries of the blues by concentrating on influences derived from 1960’s rock n’ roots music. The album is produced, mixed and engineered by Bott and co-produced by Mike Zito. It was recorded at the Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana. Templeton explains “we love many styles and naturally want to indulge in them as well…There’s rock, soul, country, some Latin influence, a bit of pop, and, dare I say a punk vibe in parts as well. I believe it’s going to break down a few walls.”
The album opens with the sound of a phonograph needle dropping on a vinyl record and a short psychedelic “Intro” before the first song begins. On “Get Love” written by Bott, Campbell, Ramos and Templeton one can’t help but notice the solid rhythm section, Ramos’ guitar and Templeton’s commanding vocal. “If we get love, when it’s got, it’s given, It’s how we make a living, if we get love, do you get it? gotta’ get love”.
“Gone to Stay” is a tune co-written by Bott and an old bandmate. It opens with Bott’s big beats and features Ramos with some twang. It reminds me of The Bryds from their “Notorious Bryd Brothers” days. “The music that we used to make, slowly drove me from my mind, it was all that I could take, to stay in tune and keep in time”.
Three songs were co-written by Templeton and Charlie O’Neal the guitarist from the Delta Generators, a band which Templeton joined in 2016. “You Ain’t Done” features Ramos on slide and a great vocal from Templeton as he sings “Got your eyes on the prize. You always said that she who dies with the most toys wins. But when it gets old you start digging for gold. That’s when the trouble begins”. “Fallen” features Bott’s rock solid beats, Ramos’ guitar, Geraci’s piano and a horn arrangement from saxophonist Chris Mercer. “Whom My Soul Loves” is a soulful duet between Templeton and Ruthie Foster with Geraci’s organ, a sax solo from Mercer, and a horn arrangement from trumpeter Joe “Mack” McCarthy, “When I find her we’re gonna walk together till we grow old”.
“Already Gone” is a Beatles type song from Templeton, as it reminds me of Paperback Writer, and features Geraci’s barrelhouse piano and the lyric “Never the norm, since the day you were born, the lights are on but there’s nobody home. So, right or wrong I’m writing this song, you say so what, I say so long. “Milinda” was written by Templeton and guitarist Ramos and features him on slide. Also from Ramos is “I Ain’t Good For Nothing (since my baby’s been gone)” with a sound similar to The Band, some slide and the horns.
“Nothing Left to Give, but there’s so much more to live” is written by Geraci and heavily influenced by Santana. “She’ll Never Know” features music from Geraci and lyrics by Bott and his wife Cathy, and is about the love for one’s child. The only cover is the closer, “Favorite Dress”, featuring the horns of McCarthy and Mercer, and a sound similar to The Rolling Stones.
This new release from these highly respected blues musicians stretches the boundaries of our genre and is solidly the “Blues Rock Album of the Year”.