"Flying High While Staying Low Down"
I first encountered the music of Randy McAllister some year back when he was recording for JSP Records. My initial reaction was "Wow - this guy is different", and that opinion has not altered since!
Randy is a Texas singer/harmonica player and drummer, who excels at what he does but who is even better as a totally original songwriter. This is a kind of 'Best Of...' CD, drawing from his releases 'Dope Slap Soup' (five tracks), 'Temporary Fixes' (six) and 'From A Little Left Of Center' (five); those titles should alert you to the fact that this is no ordinary artist, but just in case check out the names of some of these songs - 'That Chicken You're Fixin', 'Baptist Church Van', 'Man Who Went For Cigarettes', to name just three. That means there are no 'Sweet Home Chicago' retreads here. Randy sings extremely well and can be either deeply soulful in a Delbert McClinton kind of way, very bluesy or out and out rocking, and the arrangements are certainly varied to match. 'The Girl Ain't Right' makes for a raw sounding blues opener, leading into the pop-rock, vaguely Doug Sahm-ish 'Clear My Head', whilst 'Take Me Out Of New Orleans' is a churning blues. Moving on, there is the almost zydeco sound of 'Stronger Vice/ Better Hobby', the piano accompanied 'Wandering Shepard' (sic) which recalls the old folksong 'Wayfaring Stranger', and the slippery closer which falls between rock, blues and country. Along the way we also touch bases with sixties and seventies soul music and even perhaps a little JJ Cale.
Remember the names mentioned here because they are all pretty classy; remember too though that like those more renowned artists, Randy McAllister is classy and original.
----- Norman Darwen - Blues Art Studio
"Flying High While Staying Low Down"
"For the real lover of roots music there is the veteran Texan singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Randy McAllister. I discovered him five years ago with the album "Givers and Takers" (2002). Later I noticed him working to break down the barriers in roots music. He was working hard to deal with the complexities of the traditional music industry and the greed of record companies. "Flying High While Staying Low Down" (2006) is a collectors item, with tracks from the albums "Dope Slap Soup", "Temporary Fixes" and "A Little Left of Center". You will find some familiar McAllister tracks. But what is most striking regarding this CD is the rich complement of talent in the band with guitarists Mike Morgan, Jim Suhler, Stephen Bruton and Matt Woodburn. McAllister makes hot, pounding, solid music that automatically makes you want to turn the volume button up. What a music. Fantastic. McAllister crosses genre. You can hear country, blues, soul, and mostly an unique mix of Randy McAllister's own style. He matches expressive stories to original melodies for traditional sounding songs, that are filled with robust doses of humor. Listening to "Flying High While Staying Low Down" makes you want to play it all day, everyday again and again. Every time you hear it you discover something new, subtle, and more refined. It never loses intensity. For instance, as soon as one guitar solo is completed an another solo begins building the excitment without disruption.. Indescribably beautifully. McAllister delivers a rough, but relaxed sound. Together the musicians combine to produce a beautiful sound. It is an amazingly beautiful album. I have to say, I can't find a bad track. In other words: go to the store and listen to "Flying High While Staying Low Down" with your headphones on. You won't walk, but run like a crazy after you hear the second track to buy this album. Really not a lot is new in "Flying High While Staying Low Down", but the album contains sixteen tracks rooted in a deep, strong Southern tradition without superfluous fringe that would hide the power of the album. But I have to warn you that the tracks cover a range of emotions: that make you want the album even more... Briefly: Randy McAllister wrote everything himself and has a style which mixes blues, rock, country, gospel, Tex-Mex and zydeco (reminding you of a mix of Doug Sahm, John Hiatt and Delbert McClinton). Randy McAllister has found a place of his own in American music. When you listen to him you are listening to the best America has to offer. This man is a master of Americana." - Translated from Dutch - Review by ROOTSTIME
"Flying High While Staying Low Down"
What an honor for us here at www.Mary4Music.com - we now can add "GRAMMY NOMINEE", to the ever growing list of wonderful musicians that we've had the pleasure of promoting. "FLYING HIGH WHILE STAYING LOW DOWN" is RANDY MCALLISTER'S first release since "GIVERS AND TAKERS", the disc that was nominated for a "GRAMMY AWARD" in 2002. It's a Best of Compilation with five previously unreleased songs from his upcoming CD - which, from the sounds of these tracks, already appears to be a winner.
Obviously, with songs from several discs, the players on this recording are many. However, since being good enough to play on the disc certainly warrants being acknowledged, please allow me to introduce the talented bunch. Joining RANDY MCALLISTER, vocals and harmonica are: MATT WOODBURN, TODD BLALOCK, MIKE MORGAN, ANDREW "JR BOY" JONES, JIM SUHLER, STEPHEN BRUTON, ROLLO SMITH and MITCHEL SMITHEY, guitars; TIM ALEXANDER, piano organ and accordion; CHUCK "POPCORN" LOUDEN, RON THOMPSON and JIMMY MORGN, drums; SONNY COLLIE, RHANDY SIMMONS and MARK GOWAN, bass; BENITA ARTEBERRY-BURNS and ANGIE MCWHIRTHER, background vocals.
From the list of CD's I see these original songs were taken from - "TEMPORARY FIXES", "A LITTLE LEFT OF CENTER" and "DOPE SLAP SOUP", it appears that the latter would be the name of RANDY'S upcoming new disc. Therefore, I'm going to go straight to those tracks, some of which seem to have a common sound - Gospel & Country Blues.
"CLEAR MY HEAD" is highlighted by amazing vocals. RANDY and BENITA are a match made for listening and they do a masterful job on his duet. The very well written lyrics need to be paid close attention to. It's a therapeutic song about how everyday things can get to you, as they do to all of us, and when they do, you've got to just take a deep breath and clear your head. MATT and TODD supply some great guitar licks in front of some great rhythm from CHUCK, SONNY and TIM.
Very happily so, "CLOSE YOUR EYES" is lots more of the same. More great vocals from RANDY and BENITA and more spiritual and very uplifting lyrics from this amazing songwriter. Once again, about another of real life's importance's - needing someone to be there for you when you need them to be. How comforting is it knowing someone will be there to hold you up, when you're thinking about giving it up? If you don't already know, hear them sing it and you will. Man if this one doesn't make you feel good then you need to listen to "CLEAR MY HEAD" a few more times.
Going back about years ago, one of my favorite LP's was called "CHICKEN LICKIN" by a band so funky, they had to be called FUNK, INC. RANDY'S "CHICKEN' YOUR FIXIN" (from Temporary Fixes) is so full of funk, it brought that record to mind. With RHANDY on bass and CHUCK on drums laying a great foundation, and TODD supplying lots of funkified slide, it all provided a nice back drop for RANDY to lead the way on his funky harp and vocals.
"THE CHAIN" (also from Temporary Fixes) features more great magic from RANDY and BENITA. It's a typical RANDY MCALLISTER written song which features yet another wonderful message. This one is about being "the first link in the chain". It's all about being a leader vs a follower. Be the first to jump in, the first to make a move and be the first to act, etc. This time, RON, SONNY and MIKE provide the excellent drums, bass and guitar.
"WHAT MOVES YOU" (from A Little Left Of Center) is another one of my personal favorites. It opens with some very hot piano by TIM and the guitar work by JIM is some of the best on the disc. With BENITA once again joining RANDY, it's an automatic that the vocals are once again another of the tracks highlights. "WHAT MOVES YOU" will move you.
"WANDERING SHEPPERD" (also from A Little Left Of Center), is a very soft ballad that features only RANDY on vocals and TIM ALEXANDER on piano. A bit different than anything else, but very nice nevertheless.
If you thought that by mentioning this song at the end, I saved the best for last - I'll give you no argument. "WHY" (once again, from A Little Left Of Center), totally blew me away. It's another BENITA/MCALLISTER vocal and harmonizing masterpiece. On top of that it has more absolutely magnificent lyrics and the music is perfect.
Other tracks not mentioned are "THE GIRL AIN'T RIGHT / Dope Slap Soup, "TAKE ME OUT OF NEW ORLEANS" / Temporary Fixes, "THE SOUND OF LEAVING" / A Little left Of Center, "BAPTIST CHURCH" / Dope Slap Soup, "DRINKIN' TO PREVENT A KILLING" / A Little left Of Center), "NEVER HAD A LOT OF FAITH" / Temporary Fixes), "MAN WHO WENT FOR CIGARETTES" / Temporary Fixes", "STRONGER VICE / BETTER HOBBY" / Temporary Fixes and "HARD HEADED" / Dope Slap Soup.
Musically, I'm not one to cross genres. Typically, "If it ain't blues, I ain't listening. Having said that, and although there was enough blues on this disc to strike my fancy, regardless of anyone's taste, this disc has so much class and so much quality it should be loved by all.
Check out RANDY MCALLISTER @ http://www.randymcallister.com an tell him ya heard lots of good stuff about him from the "Blewzzman" - Review by Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, - www.Mary4Music.com
Flying High While Staying Low Down
"Hang on to your seats! "Flying High While Staying Low Down" is truly the best of Randy McAllister. With tracks selected from three of his hottest albums, the combination highlights the rich melodies and attention grabbing lyrics that make Randy McAllister the latest, greatest Texas talent. Each of the tracks serves to broaden the spectum that is Randy McAllister. If you've missed this Grammy Nominee, time to tune in. Randy may be one of the hottest multi-instrumentalist, singer/song writers performing today. For anyone that wants to discover overwhelming talent that just makes you feel good. Listen closely, you just heard the thunder clap of a music legend!" - Review by the Music Critic - World Entertainment Network
Double Rectified Bust Head
"Randy McAllister, the quirky Texas singer/harpman/snare drummer and more particularly songwriter, now offers his third album for the JSP label. If you have the first two, you'll know what to expect - the unexpected! Randy seems to be the kind of guy who'll lie in until the afternoon just so he can never write 'I woke up this morning.' His songs can be humorous, like '$127.00 Sandwich' (through with a sting in the tail) or deadly serious such as 'Who's the Parent, Who's the Child,' which deals with the effects on drug addiction on a family. Statistically, Randy's music runs from deep down in the Louisiana swamp or down-home Texas to contemporary blues and on the rockabilly/blues hybrid of 'Texas Thang.' Roughhewn and wild at times, this is Texas blues the way it should be" - Blueprint Magazine
"This is the third CD from Texan harmonica ace, Randy McAllister in as many years, it finds him in powerful form and must qualify as his best to date. Not only for the harmonica virtuosity, but also the dynamic vocals, the song-writing skills, and the overall Lone Star State attitude, best typified by the opening track, 'Texas Thang.' This Album is awash with energy; a deluge of testosterone. The lyrics, all by McAllister himself, are fresh and inventive, dealing with all the problems and pitfalls of modern life. A vibrant set of numbers from one of the rising stars of Texas blues. Do investigate this one." - Blues and Rhythm - Email
"With his witty, honest, and sometimes humorous writing, McAllister weaves a contemporary story book with songs of addiction, homelessness, sexuality and that other in-your-face life stuff! Get this for strong writing, hip vocals, and rip snortin' harmonica. Randy's fat harp sound is stuff of Texas legend. This third release by McAllister has all it takes to be another hit" - Big City Blues Magazine
"Let's make this simple. If you like Texas-style blues, just go out and buy this CD. Randy McAllister is one of the most unique blues singers and songwriters going today" - Southwest Blues Magazine - Oct. '99
"Each tune on McAllister's latest could be a separate chapter in a novel of short stories dealing with ordinary people and their shortcomings, bad luck, anger and injustice. Authors such as Annette Sanford could use this music for inspiration. The strength is in the stories, and how they are told outright. This disc is as hot as a Texas barbeque" - Bluesrag
"This is an absolutely great blues release that is played and sung with a whole lot of heart and soul. McAllister blows a mean harp and his songwriting is second to none" - Mohair Sweets
Randy won the awards for Best Texas Blues Harmonica Player 1999 Best Texas Blues Release (foriegn label). Real Blues Magazine - May 1999 issue.
Grease, Grit, Dirt and Spit
"Hoy! Hoy! Hoy! Randy McAllister is one harp-blowin,' blues singin,' song-writin' Texas bonafide blue blood with talent and power to spare. This is the toughest, ass-kickin'est disc to come out of the Lone Star State in quite some time. It'll getcha! Blues with an attitude - distilled roadhouse blues. Yes, once again JSP scoops the U.S. labels and proves that Texas has more serious blues talents working the clubs in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and Beaumont than Chicago has by a long shot. I think it's about time that the labels begin to concede that Texas and California are the present and future hotbeds of blues talent in North America. But enough of that argument. Randy McAllister's debut for JSP last year (Diggin' for Sofa Change') turned enough heads but this follow-up is even more self- assured and hard-drivin'. Randy's got a big voice and he projects it like an iron-lunged preacher. His harp playin' is a treat too, fat-toned and soulful. His work on 'Your Hands On My Neck' runs from pure Jimmy Reed to a wailin' climax like nothin' you've heard before. The best harp album you'll hear for pure balls and goose bumps" - Real Blues Magazine
"You have to hand it to this guy, he is a very good harpman, either on chromatic or diatonic, and possesses an 'out of left field,' soulful voice, but his real strength lies in his songwriting. All the material is original, and his CD has a bunch of wry, witty and sometimes downright funny songs. McAllister's songwriting is so clever, ('Makeshift Molly', 'Suzie Goldigger', 'Duct Tape') are perfect examples, and he is such a fine harp player I have to say that sheer listening pleasure is the result" - Blues and Rhythm Magazine
"Armed with one of the deepest voices in the blues and incredible harmonica playing, Randy McAllister has released an excellent sophomore effort. This disc has been in my player daily. Absolutely stunning" - Baltimore Bluesrag
"The killer band includes Mike Morgan on guitar and Chuck Rainey on bass, and the disc's 14 originals reveal a quirky genius at work . . . awesome vocals and the tastiest harp work heard in a long time" - Ed Ivey Blues Revue Magazine
Randy McAllister - Grease, Grit, Dirt and Spit (JSP)
"These are the days when blues tinhorns chose the drone's copyist path, while Randy McAllister's even gone the way of the maverick. Fans of expressive music are glad he did" - Southwest Blues Magazine
"Tim Schuler's notes to this CD refer to him as 'a maverick', and so to add my two penn'orth, I'll mention that to my ears this album is 'Charlie Sayles meets the Sir Douglas Quintet in the 1990s! This is real music, not conveyor belt blues" -- Blueprint Magazine
"Here's a disc of rock-tinged urban blues, Texas style. In his second album for JSP, songwriter/harmonica player McAllister plays exciting harp in the electrified Little Walter style. His songs are filled with the smell of cigarette smoke and beer, and many of them, even the slow ones, have the hard-driving edge of a band determined to blow off the cares of the working day. They play mainly in the postwar style, with a couple of tunes reflecting the soul influences of the '60s and jump blues of the '40s. McAllister has a voice which can only be described as unique; it has a certain bottom to it that makes it sound like it belongs to a 300-pound man. The leadoff tune, "Eat, Drink and Sleep," has the band doing a humorous line-by-line commentary on his vocals. Lines like "You must have been eating bullets for breakfast, 'cause you've been shooting off you mouth" underscore his humor, while "Duct Tape and Bailing Wire" is a salute to two of his favorite items from the hardware store, which help him hold things together. In "When Does the Good Stuff Happen," he bemoans doing right and having nothing much to show for it. All of this is fleshed out by Mike Morgan and Robin Slyer's guitar work and a tight band playing with rock sensibilities." -- Sigmund Finman, All Music Guide
Diggin' for Sofa Change:
"Where does that voice come from? It bespeaks a whole other dimension. All songs are original, and written with a lot of humor and passion. A gem of undercurrents and surprises"- Southwest Blues
"No mere imitator, he brings a set full of strong originals and distinctive, vibrato-laden vocal and harp styles to the table" - Living Blues Magazine
"I feel enriched by this disc . . . (Randy has) a voice the size of Texas. Indicates just how deep the blues still run in Dallas and Fort Worth" - Blueprint Magazine