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January/February 1998

Robert Ealey/Tone Sommer
I Like Music When I Party
Black Top Records

Black Top Records hit on a good thing in combining leather-lunged black bluesman Sam Myers and hotshot white guitar slinger Anson Funderburgh. Together they appealed to both the Stevie Ray Vaughan crowd and hardcore connoisseurs of the real deal. The New Orleans-based label repeats this proven formula with 71-year-old Texas blues singer Robert Ealey and the relatively young guitarist/ producer Tone Sommer, who combine for some earthy, booty-shaking grooves on I Like Music When I Party (Black Top 1138; 50:27). Sommer stings on Strat while Ealey delivers in a soulful holler that falls somewhere between Big Joe Turner and Percy Mayfield. From "Shake Your Butt" to "Shoo-Bee-Doo" to "Wild Wild West," there's plenty here to ignite any party. The lightweight reggae number "Cristena" seems strangely out of place. But Ealey redeems himself on the powerfully soulful ballad "Don't I Love You." Great band, great tunes, great chemistry.

Originally published in January/February 1998
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