What do you get when you combine the vocal register of the Philly Soul of the Ojay’s lead singer Eddie LeVert, and B.B. King and George Benson guitar styles with Tower of Power and the Crusaders type of horns? You get Arthur Adams and his dynamic new album Stomp The Floor.
Adams is a mainstay of the Los Angeles Blues scene. For a long time he has gigged as the house bandleader at B.B. King’s Los Angeles niteclub and has been a sideman for everyone from Henry Mancini to Jerry Garcia. Born in Medon, Tennessee, he started by playing around Nashville in 1959 when he was about 25 years old. He wrote a song recorded by Sam Cooke in 1961, Somebody’s Going To Miss Me, and co-wrote "Truckload of Lovin’" for Albert King. He has recorded at least five of his own albums prior to the new one, Stomp The Floor, appeared on one of them with B.B. King; and co-wrote two songs for B.B. King’s 1991 album There Is Always One More Time. Yet, he is virtually unknown by the public.
Stomp The Floor is produced by Adams with the help of bassist Lou Castro (a 1970’s funk bassist and vocalist who played with dozens of successful musicians from Wayne Newton to Keiko Matsui.) Adams is the author of all twelve tracks. The producers round out the musical talent with former Tower of Power trumpeter Lee Thornberg and his accomplice in the World’s Smallest Big Band, saxophonist Dave Woodford; former the Crusaders trombonist Garrett Adkins; legendary session Blues keyboard player Hense Powell; one of the most recorded Blues drummers in history, James Gadson; well-known session percussionist Stacy Lamont Sydnor; and virtually unknown percussionist David Leich. With all this talent one expects superior results and, in most cases, that is what Adams and Castro got.
The album feels a bit erratic at first as it flips from B. B. King and Albert King style blues to soul jazz to George Benson-like smooth jazz. Most of the songs, standing alone, seem to work. Unfortunately, the first and title song, "Stomp the Floor," comes off a bit forced and was my least favorite tune on the album. The mood of the music just doesn’t seem to fit the subject matter of the lyrics. Track 2, "You Can’t Win For Losing," is much catchier! I would have liked it even better had Adams not been as subdued in his solo in the middle of the song. It is too hesitant for a song that calls out for Adams to wail. "Don’t Let the Door Hit You" brings a less restrained feel to Adams’ Blues. Then the album morphs into something else!
The tracks "I Know What You Mean" and "So Sweet" change the electric blues feel of the first three tracks by using background vocals with a sound that made me think of the O’Jays, Al Green and the Isley Brothers. The sound again flips with the funk-tinged jazz instrumental, "You Got That Right," but goes back to Philly Soul with Marvin Gaye sensibilities in "Callin’ Heaven." The gospel blues synogism is fully on display on the track "Nature Of The Beast,"which follows.
But, again, the album jumps and warps. This time to a soul jazz, almost disco, sound in "Thrive On Your Vibe" that is followed by the track "You Are Invited" which sounds like it may have been written for B.B. or Albert King. In "You Are Invited" Adams' lead solo is emotional and has the lack of restraint that I was craving for. The album concludes with two technical instrumental beauties "Around the Sun" and "Blue Roots" which will make you first think you are listening to vintage George Benson and, then, Robert Cray.
Upon reflection, maybe it is Adams’ versatility – the ability to change styles – that has left him so obscure. Most successful albums will define an artist with a single sound that is the artist’s most bankable product. Deviation from that sound risks loss of an established fan base. On the other hand, versatility will keep a musician working and all but guarantee that a larger pool of artists will be calling on him to do session work. Adams has the chops but seems disinclined to define himself with one musical style. As a result, he is a great who is likely to stay obscure. In the end I have got to think that maybe that is the way he likes it
Buy here: Stomp The Floor