Robert Cray's first live record in his 30-year career! Five-time Grammy winner and 12-time Grammy nominee Robert Cray and his fellow journeymen, touring over six months of every year, continue to provide audiences the world over with the kind of authentic, real music that keeps the band on top of its game. For the first time ever, Robert Cray's live performance is felt on CD. Performing on stages with such legendary artists as The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry and having his songs recorded by the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Albert King and Tony Bennett has helped make Robert Cray a mainstay in popular music. His recorded collaborations with Tina Turner, John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Keb' Mo', B.B. King and Eric Clapton along with over a dozen best-selling albums have assured Robert continued visibility and prominence as a stellar musician and player of the first order.
Subtlety is both a blessing and curse for Robert Cray. In the studio, his increasingly restrained arrangements have served to frame his growing mastery of classic Memphis soul, allowing his soaring, vibrato-rich voice to carry tunes that directly echo the Stax years. That can work well live, too, and does so here in "Phone Booth" and the funky distillation "Back Door Slam," an ode to sexy down-home belters like Little Johnnie Taylor. But too often Cray downplays his incendiary guitar abilities on stage, which makes long numbers like "The One in the Middle" interminable, and leaves this two-disc live set--recorded during a week of shows opening for Eric Clapton at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 2006--full of cold spots. Things heat up whenever Cray picks up his Stratocaster in earnest, whether he's plucking out fat, singing notes à la Albert Collins in his radio hit "I Guess I Showed Her" or weaving a slow, soulful path through the bridge of the ballad "The Things You Do to Me," using his whammy bar and unpredictable variations on the melody to conjure shades of introspection. Overall, this set will please Cray's die-hard fans, but is unlikely to lure new listeners. --Ted Drozdowski