Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A 2nd Review - "Identity Theft" - Brian Lee & the Orbiters (Open Century Music 2011)

By Malcolm Kennedy
Brian Lee & the Orbiters (previously the Blues Orbiters) third release Identity Theft, the long anticipated follow up to the Blues Orbiters 2005 Washington Blues Society's "Best of Blues" Award nominated Falling Leaves, is finally here and well worth the wait.

Photo by Laddy Kite
You may recognize some of the 11 all original tracks featured on Identity Theft as the Orbiters have been perfecting them in their live shows over the last year or so. One of these is the opening cut “Fine Line,” a brisk harp fueled romp. It is a relationship song and the lyric ‘one minute there’s sun, and the next minute it starts snowing’ pretty well sums it up. The title track has been one of my favorite of Brian Lee’s songs since I first heard it some time ago. The slow minor key affair is highlighted by Brian’s brilliant harp lines that reach into the depth of my soul. Steve Yonck, with his deft touch on guitar, also adds a biting solo that makes this track a stand out. Brian brings the tempo back up for “I Smell A Rat” and he lays down some nasty slide guitar.

Another song I really enjoy is the instrumental “Fourth and Miles”, a fourth position harmonica tune and also a term Seahawks fans will recognize. Brian plays moaning blues harp and jazzy lead guitar while Steve plays rhythm. “Sideways” is an interesting song with lyrics that could apply equally to a relationship, our society in general or even a neighborhood that is in flux, with the lyric ‘yeah two steps forward, then two steps back/yeah we’re movin’ mighty fast, not on the same track.’ On the brisk shuffle “Blast Off” (the missing title track from the Blues Orbiters first CD, think Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy) Brian and Steve each take a solo. It is a song about having some fun, blowing off some steam and letting the blues do its magic. The mellow paced “So Lucky,” a love song expressing ‘I’m so lucky that you are mine,’ features soothing keyboards and vibes offsetting the stinging guitar lines.

Photo by Melissa Rae
Identity Theft features several line-ups with Brian Lee on lead vocals, blues harp, keys/vibes, lead, rhythm and slide guitar, Hank Yanda , bass on ten tracks and Guy Quintino-upright bass on one. Conrad Ormsby plays drums on seven cuts and Russ Kammerer on four. The second guitar duties (lead and rhythm) are handled by Steve on five cuts and Tim Sherman on two. The excellent pull out liner notes include all the lyrics as well as credits. The cover photo is of the late Edith Macefield’s Ballard home, Google her and read her story. I am ecstatic about this CD, I think Identity Theft is the best disc I have heard this year. In this writers opinion Brian Lee is criminally underrated as a song writer, vocalist, harp, slide and electric guitar and his orbiters are all top notch too.

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