Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Album Review: Professor Louie & The Crowmatix - Strike Up The Band

Professor Louie & The Crowmatix
Strike Up The Band
*** out of *****

The Woodstock, NY, Grammy nominated Professor Louie & The Crowmatix deliver their newest collection of feel good, upbeat Americana via Strike Up The Band.  

This collection of ten tunes finds the group in fine form as Professor Louie (vocals, Hammond Organ, piano & accordion) Miss Marie (vocals) Gary Burke (drums) John Platania (guitar) and Frank Campbell (bass) lock into these originals. These players have supported a whose-who of rock legends including Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and The Band

The Professor leads the charge on opener "A Thousand Ways To Freedom" injecting a gospel flavored tinge to the roots rock as Louie shines bright with a gorgeous piano solo to kick off the album. The party ramps up for "Work It Out" as The Woodstock Horns steal the show, delivering a bit of New Orleans into the Catskill mountain rockers sound. Miss Marie takes center stage on the bluesy "Fall Back On Me" which is highlighted by her strong vocals and slide guitar playing of Platania. 

"Golden Eagle" is a bit overdone as the tune tries too hard, traveling to the southwest with Los Lobos like accordion and flashes of flamenco guitar, but the overwrought singing/lyrics make the song feel too drawn out and a touch cheesy, as is the overblown patriotic "Livin' In The Country". Much better are the gospel piano grooves that push "Good To Be Grateful" and "Tick Tock" forward with positivity and swaggering soul. 

The album highlight arrives late with "End Of The Show" a B3 organ drenched, soulful, light rocker that appeared on a demo discovered by Louie that Richard Manuel had recorded but The Band never recorded/released. The tune is a joyful wrap up to a night of music from the singer that is bittersweet and magical, dwarfing the overly dramatic piano ballad album closer "Flaming Ray". 

Having worked closely with legends in the genre, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix keep their mix of Americana roots-rock flowing throughout Strike Up The Band
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