Roomful of Blues: There Goes the Neighborhood (2002)
Few bands could survive the loss of three key members, but Roomful of Blues has endured numerous personnel shakeups in its 31-year existence. There Goes The Neighborhood marks a change in both personnel and attitude for the legendary ensemble. Now that trombonist Carl Querfurth is gone, guitarist Chris Vachon appears to wield more influence. The emphasis is more on straight-ahead blues with fewer swing tunes, though there's enough swing here to keep long-time fans happy. New singer Mac Odom has big shoes to fill at the mic, and he's up to the challenge. His voice is nearly as smooth as Sugar Ray Norcia's, and his style is a bit more contemporary. Highlights here include the driving rocker "Dynamite Baby," the electric blues classic "I Tried," a great version of Bobby Bland's old hit "I Smell Trouble," and a low-down version of Duke Ellington's "Rocks in My Bed." The horns are less conspicuous and Neighborhood is not as hot as Roomful's last three releases, but I'd still fork up a fin to catch these cats live..