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On The Verge

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Making their Severn Records debut, the Fabulous Thunderbirds mark a new beginning with On the Verge, a departure for the blues rockers as they explore their soulful side. Front front man Kim Wilson notes, ''we're defining our own genre.'' With On the Verge the T-Birds have crafted a fresh sound, one that's sure to satisfy diehard fans while bringing new blood into the fold of the band's faithful legion.

Review

On The Verge will likely surprise casual fans of the Fabulous Thunderbirds (best known for their '80s hits Tuff Enuff and Wrap It Up) with a collection of mostly-original tunes mining a blend of Stax Records-styled R&B and soul as much as the Texas roadhouse blues that defined the group's '70s and '80s work. From the hopeful blues of I Want to Believe to the soulful ballad Do You Know Who I Am that tackles the hardships of American life in 2013, On The Verge is one of the T-Birds' best albums. Throughout it all, Kim Wilson sings and blows his blues harp with a level of soul and sophistication that is simply thrilling. --Desert Star Weekly, 3/13/12

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that a band so often defined by its guitarists takes on a different character once the lead singer -- the only constant in the group since its beginnings in the mid-'70s -- definitively asserts his status as the band's leader, yet the change within the Fabulous Thunderbirds that can be heard on On the Verge, their 12th official studio album, is striking. The last time the Thunderbirds released a studio album was in 2005, during a stint when the great Austin guitarist Nick Curran was the sparring partner of vocalist and T-Bird linchpin Kim Wilson. In 2013, guitarists Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller, talented axemen both, now support Wilson and they do get a chance to flaunt their gifts on On the Verge, but the focus is firmly on songs and rhythm. It is surely a soul-blues album, often copping the cool, relaxed Memphis groove and reaching down to the gritty funk of Muscle Shoals. This not only gives Wilson room to stretch vocally -- he's supple and sensitive on Lovin' Time -- but this means On the Verge is a richer, fuller album than many latter-day Thunderbirds albums, because this isn't just dedicated to slow, swaying seduction, there are wah-wah-fueled workouts, a bit of social protest, some jazzy flourishes, and, yes, a bit of the Texas blues that the T-Birds call their own. But what's striking about On the Verge isn't just the versatility, it's the ease: Kim Wilson doesn't sound desperate to stretch out; he's merely comfortable leading his band toward all the soulful sounds he's loved. The result is a thoroughly satisfying album, a long-delayed but very welcome flipside to the rollicking Painted On. --Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic.com
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 1, 2016)
  • Original Release Date: July 1, 2016
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SEVERN RECORDS
  • ASIN: B00AKZ8E0I
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,616 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As always, The captain of this ship is Kim Wilson, we find the Fabulous Thunderbirds exploring their more soulful side on this new 10-song original CD release. Wilson, the vocalist and harp-player is joined by Johnny Moeller, guitarist with the band since 2007, along his brother drummer Jay Moeller, Mark Merella (percussion), Morgan Price (saxophone); Kenny Rittenhouse, Liesl Whitaker (trumpet), Victor Barranco (trombone), guitarist Mike Keller, co-producer/keyboardist Kevin Anker, and bassist Randy Bermudes. Christal Rheams, Caleb Green, Paige Martin, Daryl Duff (background vocals).

No Jimmy Vaughan on this one, he went solo in 1989, recording an album with brother Stevie Ray Vaughan a year later. He was replaced, initially, by Duke Robillard. Over the years, the Fabulous Thunderbirds also featured guitarists including Kid Ramos (who had a lengthy tenure from 1993-2002), Troy Gonyea and Nick Curran. Johnny and Mike do an acceptable job but they fall slightly off the mark unable to match Jimmy's smooth vibe or stylistic playing. The playful 1950's riff of “Lovin’ Time” will take longtime fans back to the band’s Jimmie Vaughan era, but that's as close as it gets. But this is a new T-Bird direction, with Kim leading his band toward all the soulful sounds he's loved. Of course, Kim's vocals are pure honey laced blues with a soulful depth that ranks up there with his best performances of past offerings. Actually the vocals surpass all previous performances, too bad Jimmy wasn't part of this supporting cast.

The focus is firmly on songs and rhythm. It is surely a soul-blues album, immersed in the cool, relaxed Memphis groove and reaching down to the gritty funk of Muscle Shoals.
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Format: Audio CD
first the positives...I completely agree with the previous reviewer that the vocals are top notch; probably the best of any Thunderbirds album. the songs are beautifully arranged with multiple instrumental parts fitting together nicely to form an overall enjoyable listening experience. the production and mixing is also first rate.

Now the "negatives." I put quotes around that word because the negatives aren't so negative that they are deal-breakers. This album is, for the most part, very safe-sounding. It is soulful in that way that a lot of "Adult rock" is soulful...Memphis or Muscle Shoals?...Heck no. also, Kim Wilson is an amazing harp player, yet exept for three songs, the harp is nowhere to be found. "that's the Way We Roll" contains some great harp playing, and it is easily the best song on the record. All of the other songs are fine, but to me, they almost seem interchangeable because they are so laid-back and devoid of any real fire.

I do want to reiterate that this is not a bad album. I guess what knocks it down to three stars for me is that it seems to be a deliberate attempt to break into the adult rock market. It has just enough soul that one can stamp a soul label on it, but not enough soul to scare anyone away. It appears that, in an attempt to make their sound more mature, they have removed almost anything that would make one song stick out from another...Safe.

I would still recommend bying the album because, for what it is trying to do, it does it extremely well. Just be prepared to be relaxed, rather than blown away.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like fine wine they are aging to perfection! I honestly love this new cd, it's no longer hard rock if that's what you're looking for, go back to the earlier albums, this is a mellower Kim Wilson, but still you will find a GREAT Thunderbird band! Kim sings of broken hearts, and times he's been through, thru experience, like all of us, it takes that experience to know it! Great CD, I would recommend it to any blues/rock fan!
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Format: Audio CD
The publicity surrounding this album has compared it to classic Stax soul releases but although it has the brass and the Steve Cropper-style guitar for me it doesn't have the magic of those great Memphis tracks. Although this certainly isn't the raw blues of the classic early Thunderbirds, or the rock blues that produced their later chart hits. Nowadays the Fabulous Thunderbirds are just Kim Wilson on vocals and harp and a backing band - in this case guitarists Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller, bassist Randy Bermudes, Jason Moeller on drums and co-producer Kevin Ankers on keyboards. I really liked 'High water' from 1997 which was a really modern-sounding Little Axe-style record which I thought was a real step forward for Kim but only the bluesy 'Lonely highway' has elements of that sound, with its restrained brass and Kim's nice harp.

I didn't think that the songs here (mainly written by Kim and Kevin Ankers) were good enough - a bit too many mid-tempo laid-back songs that sounded flat and very similar. There are only three songs with harp on, including 'That's the way we roll' where Kim sings through the harp mike to give a funky distorted sound and 'Too much water' not a Hurricane Katrina song but referring to "too much water under the bridge" of a relationship. Kim's voice is really strong throughout but I didn't think that the songs' melodies gave him enough to work with, although I did like the funky 'Runnin' from the blues' with its classic soul guitar and the preachy ballad 'Do you know who I am' with its soulful backing vocals. I do hope that this record grows on me but at the moment I'm afraid that it just sounds rather ordinary albeit with a few stand out tracks.
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