Whisperin & Hollerin UK
Having never seen Big Al in person, I cannot testify to the name. Is he walking tall? Living large? One
thing is for sure, Big Al has quite the voice. Unlike modern musicians who try to ape the gravelly
passion of their ancestors, Big Al can actually summon the 3 a.m. emotions of the greats. And, that
my friend, is not hype; it is the shattering truth.
As you can figure out from the title, Big Al is as inspired by classic soul as he is by the blues. That
comes across vividly in his vocals, especially on the cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," which is
less nostalgic here and more melancholic. That alone is a bracing change of pace. Imagine that:
Somebody covering "Stand By Me" who isn't trying to imitate King. Instead, Big Al makes it his own,
as if the song was written for him to sing.
But let's get to the blues which Big Al does so well. In fact, it's going to be hard for you to find a blues
disc as consistently solid as this. The potent "Mother in Law Blues" and the dramatic "Empty Chair"
will knock the whiskey from your lungs. There is no pointless studio slickness, no pop glop; the
production is just right, putting Big Al's two-fisted voice in front of the mix without any added artificial