Rollin’ & Tumblin’
© 2009 Grooveyard Records GYR051
I have been a fan and a close friend of Tony Spinner ever since we first traded licks and worked together at the Muzic Complex in Jonesboro, AR back in the `90’s. I am now his webmaster so there are plenty of reasons to think this review is biased… And yes, I’d have to say it is.
Since Tony first got a record contract, he has gone on to work with such acts as Pat Travers, Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big, and from 1999 to 2009 he worked as a backing guitar player and background singer for Toto. He has just returned from the CREAM Tribute European tour with Kofi Baker, Ginger Baker’s son and is getting ready to embark on another one with Kofi Baker and Malcolm Bruce, son of Jack Bruce in a “Sons of Cream” tour. Let me say this… Tony is up to it.
Tony is both a phenomenal guitarist and vocalist and you can experienced him on any of his nine solo albums or his offerings on such releases as the TOTO DVD and CDs 25th Anniversary: Live in Amsterdam, and Livefields. His work with Paul Gilbert is full of guitar pyrotechnics and excellent vocals on the releases Vibrato, Alligator Farm and Flying Dog. Of course, Tony’s contributions stand out as my favorites on Voodoo Crossing, a Jimi Hendrix tribute, Songs from the Better Blues Bureau compilation, Hat’s Off To Stevie Ray, a great SRV tribute, Fit For A King, the Albert King tribute and the albums by Mark Sallings & The Famous Unknowns, Talkin’ To Myself and Let It Be Known.
Rollin’ & Tumblin’ on Grooveyard Records is Tony’s sixth solo album released in 2009. It is an amazing collection of some killer new material as well as a couple of old favorites. With the help of Michel Mulder on bass and Han Neijenhuis on drums, this release is the apex of Tony’s solo output so far. Saturn Blues, the opener was originally the title track of his first solo CD and the new treatment it receives here is a groove which sets a high standard for the rest of the disc. Count Your Blessings is a number which showcases Tony’s fondness for funk and yet provides him with the necessary tension and release to keep you groovin’ throughout. Rollin’ & Tumblin’ in Meantown is a tip of the hat to Johnny Winter and does not disappoint as Tony recalls the Johnny Winter And era dual solos which evolve into a breakdown which take the tried and true formula to a new and exciting level. Walkin’ The Dog is another great, funky contribution which brings you back to Earth after that last tune. Lay Down Your Crutch is a song in the Southern Rock vein which takes that genre to a new level. Saving Grace, a song about Tony’s loving wife, Sonya is a beautiful ballad and you can feel the emotion in the lyrics as well as the powerful solo.
C. C. Rider is a bluesy romp through this standard and not at all what you would expect. Cathead Biscuit is in Tony’s words, “… a fun fantasy tune that originally started as a jam. Joe asked us to add lyrics so I came up with the cartoon”. Walkin’ The Walk is a nice break which takes us back to that feel good mood we all get in when we hear an old, familiar tune although, it’s totally original. Goldfish Bowl Blues, the lowdown, slowdown blues is another blast from Tony’s past as it was one of my favorites from back in the day. Luv Thang is an infectious, driving beat that also features great production effects. Listen To Your Heart is an 8 minute opus that, as is Tony’s standard method, implores the listener with honest, heartfelt lyrics which make you think. The music also outstanding as it starts out slow and introspective then the scorching, feedback driven solos are among some of Tony’s best on record. Love Junkie takes us back to Tony’s southern roots with some killer double tracked slide work and is well worth a listen. The album’s closer, Catfish/Make Love To You is a medley of Willie Dixon tunes which showcase Tony’s slide work again. It was done in one take with Tony on a 12 string acoustic and Michel on a 6 string acoustic for Catfish. Don’t be mistaken, this cut has one of Tony’s most electrifying solos interspersed with the sparse, loose, bluesy feeling of the track and is a fitting end to a monumental album.
In summation, Tony has a knack for adding his own trademark hooks to traditional blues and rock structures and his lyrics consist of themes we can all relate to. He has a new disc scheduled for imminent release called Down Home Mojo which he says is his favorite so far and from the tracks he gave me to preview, I can see why. The trio format is Tony’s choice as it gives him room to breathe and improvise without hesitation and without a setlist, and his current European touring band is right in sync with him on every turn. Michel Mulder (bass) and Alex Steier (drums) comprise the tight-knit rhythm section. Michel is from The Netherlands and Alex is from Uzbekistan.
Tony deserves to be rated among the best and he’s proving it more and more every day. During the recent CREAM Tribute European tour, Tony was the highlight of the Dutch Highlands festival where legendary Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman, chose their band to come out and jam with, making headlines all across The Netherlands.
Tony regularly tours Europe in case you want to experience him live, but meanwhile, he can be seen at local venues with his American band. For tour dates, a complete discography, biography and lots of fun photos, visit Tony’s website, Tony Spinner.com and you can also keep up with him on his Facebook page.