Reviews for UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Following a two-year sabbatical from 2010, Vancouver’s Mojo Stars augmented their line-up and sold out New Westminster BC’s Columbia venue to make their return to live action. Six performances from that same venue provide the bulk of Under The Influence with five studio tracks completing a clean, precise, and gently funky collection.
Without ever getting dirty and gritty, Under The Influence displays the Stars’ diversity in a blue, soulful way. From ‘Why Can’t I Be True?’ an infectious shuffle with a pop feel, to the pleading but melodious ‘Why Didn’t You Know?’ featuring a splendid yearning Randy Clarke vocal and Leo Oliphant’s understated virtuoso bass, it’s obvious from the crowd reaction that BC is delighted to witness their return to action.
Other delights see Tom Gould’s Jr Walker-ish sax add piquancy to the Latin-tinged wiry anti-hero funk of a lengthy live ‘26 Banks’, and his Stax brass attack on ‘Stay A Little Longer’, a song tied to a tasteful pop-soul melody and a floor-filler chorus. ‘No Use In Crying’, is a personal favourite, though, a country soul show-stopper with rasping brass prompts and testifying gospel harmonies.
…with the sax of Tom Gould and Hammond grooves of Kenny Boychuck, No Use In Crying offers us a great soul song…I truly enjoyed the soulful ballads, and the live recordings are perfectly mixed.
Western Canada’s pre-eminent white boys with the blues rock it up one more time to light up the night and provide power to keep those generators going through long, cold nights. Sounding like the well tested road warriors they are, this is real music for people that just want to do some fist pumping and kick out the jams as air guitars rage. Fun stuff from pros that know the moves but pepper then with that something extra.
The album opens with the title track ‘Under The Influence’. The song has a heavy groove and Hammond virtuoso Kenny Boychuck clearly comes alive behind his piano and B3. Guitarist Mark Rankin treats us to a blistering guitar solo in this great song.
…The live ballad “Why Did not You Know?” is one of the best songs on ‘Under The Influence’. The more than six-minute soulful ballad is sung with much feeling by Randy and and saxophonist Tom Gould, who managed to make this song shine. Still, guitarist Mark Rankin draws attention to himself with much dexterity and soulful string work. Drummer Shawn Soucy and bassist Rob Marr ensure the steamy groove in the swinging rocker “I Is not Feeling As Good As I Look.”
“Lock The Door Mama” and “You Do not Know Me And I Wish You Would” are such awesome, swinging rockers that must provide endless thrills for a dancing crowd during a Mojo Stars concert. ‘Under The Influence’ is a strong and varied album. The Mojo Stars is a band that creates atmosphere and know their numbers to choose well. (8/10)
SOME COOL QUOTES FROM SOME FUNKY FOLKS
“You guys have really got it going on! Y’all could be the next big band to come out of Canada!”
“…the vocals are impressively huge…good playing; strong guitar and the band is tight and energized. There is a lot of potential here”
Bruce Iglauer – Alligator Records and Artist Management Inc.
“With a voice as clear as a Rocky Mountain stream and as strong as a gale force wind, Randy Clarke has no problem at all getting his message concerning the blues, across to his audience. With guitar extraordinaire Mark Rankin by his side, this team makes up one of the most mesmerizing blues aficionado’s, the Canadian West Coast Music Scene has seen in a while, and to prove that point they put out a non-stop Bluesfest of an album titled, The Mojo Stars “Devil’s Advocate”. With what looks like a vintage Electro-Voice Mic in hand, Randy has no problem at all belting out the tunes and if that wasn’t enough he also has a mean talent with the Harmonica, as well. “Devil’s Advocate” consists of 10 Tracks, all originals, which were all audience favorites before recording them and which quickly became my favorites after listening to the Album. “Devil’s Advocate” is a great introduction to anyone who loves the blues, sung straight up, without the clutter and a great intro to a mighty fine band