The All Purpose Blues Band
Cornbread and Cadillacs (Catbone Music & Film)
By Brian Arsenault
“When we start cookin,’ baby, you know the hambone gets hot.”
Yes, the All Purpose Blues Band is cooking on Cornbread and Cadillacs from beginning to end. The music and the metaphors are clear and cut to the bone. Down and nasty or yearning and loving, there is no mistaking the meaning.
Real. Genuine. All those kind of words apply. True to the form — blues, soul, funk all mixed together in a New Orleans jumbo that is hard to just sit and listen to when your foot’s tapping, leg’s jumping, and the natural instinct would be to dance.
Willie Lockett has one of those deep scrotum blues voices that can cut to the (ham) bone or tease and please. Bet there’s been some smokin’ and drinkin’ to help train those vocal cords.
And Billy Gregory, the guitar master of this black and white, mixed race band, is simply as good as there is. Really. He needs be second chair to no one. A true slow hand who can lay under the vocal or lead the charge.
Paul Boudreaux and Tony D’Allesandro provide the essential rhythm pure and natural and guest Greg Villafranco adds strong keyboard work.
Billie Holliday once said that when she was a kid the only place where black and white people could mix and act normal with one another was a whorehouse. Well, at least we’ve reached the point where they can be in a band together or join the crowd at a Bourbon Street bar.
And you’ll be there too when they give ya the slow and yearning “I’m Searching,” cuz everyone’s been there. Or the title song about feeding body and soul.
The album cover calls the band “blues soul” but I swear that on Cornbread and Cadillacs we are talking “funk blues”– or would it be “blues funk.” Either way, I wasn’t surprised to read that at least some of these guys have worked with the Neville Brothers.
There’s a little Santana on “Walk In My Shoes” which takes me back to when everybody listened to everybody else. That’s when we get to the best, you know.
The guys at Catbone Music have provided us with a lot of early r&b and rock, remastered and brought home when much seemed lost. With the APB Band, they have brought to a wider audience the real deal, in the flesh and still cooking. If we can’t go see them in New Orleans and elsewhere we can at least listen to this fine album.
The lead song is “Going Back to New Orleans” and they take us with them. Again, real and genuine — lacking in pretense but not in feeling. They get down to it. “I’m Your Hambone,” no translation required, follows and a couple songs later there’s the great Chester Burnett song, “Killing Floor.“ If you’re still sitting while “Killing Floor” plays you are certainly white (my excuse, I was taking notes) and may be nearly comatose. Later, there’s the wry “Willie On The Phone” and the stellar “I Got Everything I Need” wherein soul music still lives that mutates into blues and finally to pure Otis. Buy the album for this song alone. Just terrific.
And if you haven’t had enough — and you probably won’t have — the album concludes with the magical Sam Cook’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Would it be too much to say that Sam Cook invented soul music? Because, you see, people need to know and not forget and, as Johnny Fever once said, someone needs to teach the children.
The All Purpose Blues Band’s name is also who they are.