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[Off The Record]
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Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

Sugar Ray Norcia is one hell of a blues singer. Forceful as a freight train, he’s also got that uncanny knack for putting the right feel into every syllable. This disc places Norcia, who spent seven years as the Roomful of Blues frontman, back in the company of the Bluetones, whom he formed (along with guitarist Ronnie Earl) before his Roomful days. Earl’s pretty touch is not present here, but a stripped-down trio of Boston vets churn in the hard-thumping style reminiscent (perhaps too reminiscent) of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

" She’s Blued and Broken, " written by bassist Michael " Mudcat " Ward, is a throwback to early electric-blues days, a funny take on a serial wife with a violent streak. Elsewhere, the band dig into several Norcia originals that sound as if they could have been dragged out of the vaults of the Chess or Duke labels. Norcia blows very tough on the harmonica, matching the gritty guitar work of Kid Bangham (replaced on tour by young firebreather Monster Mike Welch) and the steady rhythms from Ward and drummer Neil Gouvin. Blues fans have heard this kind of stuff before, but they’ve not often heard it from someone who does it as well as Norcia.

(Sugar Ray Norcia and the Bluetones play the House of Blues this Saturday, June 23. Call 617-491-BLUE.)


Issue Date: June 21 - 28, 2001

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