Cari Lee & The Contenders – Scorched
Startone Records ST113 
I Think About You – The Lover’s Curse Scorched – Fine Fine Man – Burnt Toast & Black Coffee – How Come? – I’m A Little Mixed Up – Don’t Be A Fool – You Shock Me – Little Red Rooster – Now I’m Gonna Roll
Hey guys and gals, welcome to Fred’s cooking recipe. Today’s recipe is : how to make an outstanding rhythm and blues album. Take a bunch of fine musicians : T Jarrod Bonta (today when you think «piano», 2 names come in mind : Bonta and Leyland), Ryan Gould on bass (Dave Biller’s gipsy jazz album), Damien Llanes on drums (Nick Curran, Deke Dickerson), Don Torosian on sax and of course Steve Merritt on guitar. Add a great female singer with a musical range that goes from Rose Maddox to Etta James and everything in between. Gather all this ingredient in one of the best studio for this kind of music (Fort Horton) with the right producer (Billy Horton). Make ‘em play some Cari Lee’s originals (I Think About You and its driving piano, the jumpin’ Fine Fine Man – wich is also available on the cd-rom part of this cd)and a couple of well choosen covers: The Lover’s Curse (Cari Lee’s voice would melt anything or anyone on this one), Mike Pedicin’s Burnt Toast and Black Coffee and How Come first sung by Anita O’ Day. Don’t hesitate to mix tempos and moods (the pre-rock’n’roll Scorched, the jazzy How Come? and the bluesy Little Red Rooster). And that’s it ! Easy isn’t it? Serve hot. Very hot!
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Cari Lee & The Saddle-Ites – Brought To You Via Saddle-Ite
Startone Records ST114 
From Monday On -. Keep Me Company -. We Tied The Knot -. I’m Hoping That You’re Hoping -. It’s Alright By Me -. When Your Way Gets Dark -. Life Is Sweet – Nine Little Kisses -. After All -. Heaven Only Knows -. Throw A Little Wood On The Fire – Brown Eyed Dream -. Did You Ever Come Home -. Are You Lonesome – It’s A Doggone Shame
Produced by Billy Horton with some highly talented guests (Bobby Trimble, Dave Biller, John Doyle, T Bonta, Bobby Horton), Cari Lee and the Saddle-Ites give us, with this album, their best effort to date, without any doubt. The production work is faultless and they have the will to make each song distinctive from the other. The opening track “From Monday On”, a Bing Crosby tune from 1928, swings like hell and bassist Danny Santos on duet vocal is a nice addition to the band. “I’m hoping…” starts with some gipsy swing pattern and soon turns into a dark mood tune, partly due to the haunting steel. “It’s Alright By Me” and “Did You Ever Come Home” are more in the vein of their previous efforts and when it comes to do a Rose Maddox song, you wont find anybody to beat Cari Lee (the same way Marti Brom is unbeatable on Patsy Cline). “Are You Lonesome?” is a fine rockin’ boogie and could come from the “Scorched” sessions. I don’t have too much to say about “Life Is Sweet” except it’s simply beautiful, simplicity could be so hard to reach sometimes. Danny Santos doesn’t only sing duets. but takes lead on five songs. Some are co-written with guitarist Steve Merritt like the swinging “We Tied The Knot” with superb guitar parts by Steve Merritt and Doyle on clarinet.while “Heaven Only Knows” brings a bit of honky tonk to the mix and Shorty Long’s “Nine Little Kisses” has a strong Bill Haley & His Saddlemen feel in it.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis