The Proven Ones’ newest release You Ain’t Done is a collection of rousing blues rock songs mixed with other blues flavors that make you wish you were at their live concert, so you could dance and enjoy their riffs and jams. Not to be denied, these five musicians are aptly named The Proven Ones (TPO), a talented group of veteran blues’ rock musicians — guitarist Kid Ramos, vocalist Brian Templeton, keyboardist Anthony Geraci, bassist Willie J. Campbell and drummer Jimi Bott. Blues accompanied by blues luminaries Ruthie Foster, vocalist, and Mike Zito, blues guitarist (who co-produced this album with Jimi Botti).
It’s worth noting the musicians’ backgrounds since this album is a collaboration of blues talents that have played with many all-star bands and enjoy performing live for their blues fans. And although the album could be better arranged, the musicians are outstanding.
Kid Ramos is a solo electric blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, who has played with The Fabulous Thunderbirds on harpist and front man Kim Wilson’s invitation and The Mannish Boys, a classic blues band steeped in West Coast, Texas and Chicago styles. Jimi Bott is a renowned drummer with more than 100 recordings, works with many of the industry’s best musicians and owns Roseleaf Studios and Roseleaf Records in Portland, Oregon. He too joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds concurrent with Kid Ramos. Bassist Willie J. Campbell also performed with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Mannish Boys and has been nominated by the Blues Foundation for Best Instrumentalist 6 times. Anthony Geraci is an original member of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and received a Grammy Nomination for his album “Super Harps” among other blues awards and nominations. Boston keyboardist, Brian Templeton’s credits include the Radio Kings, as well as collaborations with such notables as Jerry Portnoy, Sonny Rhodes, James Cotton, and Otis Grand.
Together they blend their musical talents on a number of tracks marked by songwriting contributions from each musician in the band. According to Templeton, “We are all known as blues musicians, but we love many styles. In this album, there is rock, soul, country, some Latin influence, a bit of pop, and dare I say a punk vibe as well.”
While the songs are enjoyable, some more than others depending on your mood, the album feels a bit disjointed between the first four songs which are loud blues rock, and the songs that follow that become musically more diverse.
“Get Love Intro” starts off the album with a short psychedelic sitar-like riff reminiscent of George Harrison, but quickly moves into a full throttle, guitar splitting, horn blasting, blues rock number that delivers the message that “This power will bring us around when we Get Love, that’s how we make a living.” And that power is how TPO makes their living as the beat drifts off into the dreamlike psychedelic melody. Waking you up from the dream are Jimi Bott’s drums that drive “Gone to Stay” a rock melody that sounds like its right out of a 1960s beach blanket movie that you can do the pony or jerk to with occasional harmonies like the Beach Boys. A little more soulful and bluesy is the title song “You Ain’t Done”, with horns, drum, keyboard and guitar solos featured in the break. The hard blues rock part of the album is capped off with “Already Gone” complete with acapella introduction, and honkytonk piano that feels a little more 1970s.
Almost abruptly the album turns toward gospel with Ruthie Foster’s vocals accompanied by a melodic guitar and organ giving us the hope that “in my time I’ll find the one whom my soul loves.” “Melinda” is a melodic, romantic youthful song to sway to the refrain “I’m going to marry you.”
“She’ll Never Know” is sweet and poignant capturing the feelings we have when we hold our baby child. But the song which feels universal is more specific and bittersweet. Templeton recalls “When my sister died from substance abuse and mental illness in 2008, she and my niece had not spoken in years; they were estranged, and their rocky relationship was never resolved. The chorus I wrote was my hope of what my sister may have been feeling as she watched from the sidelines while her daughter grew up.”
Weaving more blues style into the album “I Ain’t Good for Nothin” has a down home funky washboard feel, while “Nothing Left to Give” has a distinct sexy Latin rhythm.
The Proven Ones are consummate blues musicians and “You Ain’t Done” surely showcases their talents. As for the album, the collection of songs feels pieced together producing a great group of songs that aren’t all that cohesive.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Already Gone
– She’ll Never Know
– Whom My Soul Loves (featuring Ruthie Foster)
The Big Hit
– Whom My Soul Loves (featuring Ruthie Foster)
Review by Gloria Reiss