Roomful of Blues – Hook, Line & Sinker

January 01, 1970



Long before rock and roll was
defined by lead, rhythm, bass guitars and drums or the black sounding southern
white boy with the funny first name, it was defined by swinging horns and jump
rhythms. Rock and roll before Buddy Holly and Elvis was a direct offshoot of
the World War II era big band sound, with hard driving groups like Bill Haley
and the Comets and blues shouting vocalists like Big Joe Turner. That music was
meant to get people moving on dance floors.


Perhaps no group has kept the
spirit of early rock and roll alive better than Roomful of Blues former in 1967
by guitarist Duke Robillard and pianist Al Copley. By 1971 the famous horns
were added.  The founding members are
long gone, but Roomful of Blues lives on. On Hook, Line & Sinker, Roomful of Blues proves that they are
stronger than ever in 2011. And that is saying something about a band that as
long ago as 1974 the immortal Count Basie called “the hottest blues band I ever


The heat still burns red hot
on Hook, Line & Sinker. The album
consists of 12 covers of songs made famous by Big Maybelle, Floyd Dixon,
Gatemouth Brown and Amos Milburn, as well as songs written by Dave Bartholomew
and Lieber Stoller. And of course the album title comes from a song made famous
by Big Joe Turner. The result is an album that is pure fun to listen to and
even jump to if you are so inclined. From the first track, “That’s A Pretty
Good Love” once recorded by Big Maybelle, the signature sound of Roomful of
Blues comes blasting through, from the fat sounds of the wailing horns to the
serpentine rhythms and slashing guitar added to the mix. It is a sound right
out of a time of zoot suits and packed ballrooms on a Saturday night.


One of the amazing things
about Roomful of Blues over the decades is that they have kept their sound and
identity despite the more than 50 musicians who are now alumni of the band.
Along with heavyweights like Robillard, Roomful has included musicians like
Ronnie Earl, Lou Ann Barton, Sugar Ray Norcia and Curtis Salgado. Rick Lataille
on tenor and alto sax is the closest thing to an original member left but even
he joined when the group was already three years old. For the past two decades,
Chris Vachon has been handling the guitar and vocalist Phil Pemberton is one of
the newest members.


On Hook, Line & Sinker, listen to the incredible guitar work by
Vachon on the fast driving, hard-swinging Gatemouth song, “Gate Walks to Board”
Or listen to the amazing vocal performance by Pemberton on the Don and Dewy song,
“Kill Me” and you will be reminded of the work done by early James Brown and
the Famous Flames. And while it is not fair to compare anybody with the sheer
power of Big Joe Turner, Roomful of Blues certainly captures the raucous fun of
mid-1950’s rock and roll on “Hook, Line and Sinker.”


Roomful of Blues is eight
guys who have the power of a full Big Band orchestra. They mix jump and jive
with R&B, blues and rock and roll. They are one of America’s
musical treasures. We have been lucky to have them so long and still have them
today. Hook, Line & Sinker is a
gem not to be missed.


A Pretty Good Love” “She Walks Right In” “Kill Me” “Gate Walks to Board” TOM CALLAHAN 


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