Ronnie Baker Brooks: Times Have Changed (Provogue)

RonnieBakerBrooks-TimesHaveChangedRonnie Baker Brooks
Times Have Changed

Chicago’s Ronnie Baker Brooks returns with his first studio album in over a decade, ‘Times Have Changed,’ The certified soul blues icon teamed up with rhythm master and walking musical encyclopedia of what is hip, drummer and producer Steve Jordon to record eleven new tracks that display his vision of linking the past with the future and showing the world that blues and soul isn’t the music of a by gone era but a living breathing thing.

The tracks were recorded in two classic studios; Royal Studios in Memphis and Blackbird Studio in Nashville, locations that allowed the pair to bring in special guests and capture an authentic, raw off the floor sound which feels very modern.

Joe Tex supersonic funk prototype “Show Me,” kicks off the record with Telecaster master Steve Cropper joining the muscular ready of a horn band classic. The Slinky Brooks tune “Doing To Much,” features a super fat beat from Jordon and the first of two guest spots from Todd “Big Head” Mohr. The northern soul house party instrumental “Twine Time,” features brothers Teenie (guitar), Charles (organ) and Leroy Hodges (bass) of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, who join Brooks and his father Lonnie Brooks for some groovy fun. The title track turns the vibe 180 degrees with its message of social unrest and call for healing with Al Kapone dropping in his rap commentary on the outro. More sizzling horns and that signature Jordan snapping snare drum punctuate the moving and grooving track “Long Story Short,” Angie Stone adds her sultry vocals to the high production cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit “Give Me Your Love,” that is dripping with knee deep shag.

Brooks willingly hands over the lead vocals to the legendary Bobby “Blue” Bland for the artful reading of “Old Love,” remaking the tune written by Eric Clapton and Robert Cray into a neo-soul treatise on heartache. The Street-smart boogaloo “Come On Up” features Felix Cavaliere on the organ and vocals from Nashville cat Lee Roy Parnell. Sweet tones from strings and keys fill up the album closer “When I Was We,” adding to the timeless feel of Brook’s tender mercies.