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Blue James Band | Give Me the Love or Give Me the Fight

album review by John Powell

Blue James Band | Give Me the Love or Give Me the Fight

Let’s say this for Blue James Band: they don’t buy into any one particular brand of music. Give Me the Love or Give Me the Fight is a classy album, down to the album art. Strong production, bold sound, pristine organ, rich melodies, harmonies, and overall a high quality album.

It’ll trick you with the opener. “Not Ready For You” tempts roots reggae mixed with 90’s style pop. The chorus always comes around quick, very much Blues Traveler, although returning to the reggae groove. This doesn’t really come back around again, although it’s fun to see at the beginning of an album.

The title track is super fun. The horns are stellar throughout the whole album, but especially here, with a world beat flavor that’s a bit Latin groove and feeling organically jammy like Euphorquestra might pull off. Singer Clifton Williams has a short range and never belts, but he fits the sound well. The album is party music, and his lyrics are often light and playful, never in the way of the instrumentation.

If you want to fall in love with a song, blast “They Come and They Go.” It’s a story-song with glistening guitar, steady beat, and good harmonies. Liz Lawrence plays sax and also often adds female backing vocals that increases the lyrics tremendously. “See, it’s that simple life that they all want,” Clifton sings, “To get away from barbeques and ballgames and cell phones.”

Throughout GMTLOGMTF (as we’ll call it for short), the songs topically orbit breaking from social confines and finding pleasure in the small things. On “Everyone’s Running” Clifton sings, “My clothes, they don’t fit me right/ and I just don’t feel comfortable in my own skin.” Later, however, on “Standing in the Fire”, he sings, “It’s in your actions that define what you have done.”

Some songs are bit heavy-handed, like there’s not a story to be told so much as fabricated to fit an intended message. The 90s pop quality is well worth the price of admission, however. All music, from the lap steel to the waves of horns, is very well planned.

Blue James Band hasn’t created the end all be all album here, but it’s down right good and worth hearing. They are the band you could be friends with, the band you’d see live a hundred times because they’re so fun to dance to, and the band that only gets better with age.

Bottom line: Give Me the Love or Give Me the Fight is one long title, but these world beat kicked 90s pop groovesters have found a niche and crafted some interestingly complex but simple sounding pleasures.


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