Remember that old song by Dave Frishberg, “I Want to be a Sideman”? Here, you’ve got two releases by one of the ultimates, Nashville resident Richard Bennett. He plays guitar, mandolin and just about anything that can be strummed or plucked for tons of artists either in studio or on tour. Mostly associated with Mark Knopfler, he’s also put out a handful of material on his own. Of the two here, one is going to impress you, and the other will knock you out.
Of the latter, Code Red Cloud Nine has him sounding like he got a blood transfusion from Johnny Smith and maybe a dna sample from Chet Atkins. Bennett’s got a clean and fluid sound on this collection of short but sweet originals, and he mixes and matches the settings with a tight little team of Ted Tretiak/dr, David Hungate/g, Nick Noble-Nick Bennett/g and a selection of horns, strings and other various cameos. Some of the material such as “Squisito” has a hip little bop that has you waiting for Peggy Lee or June Christy to come in and coo. Other’s such as “Casey’s Place” or “It’s a Lucky Old World” sound like a background for a 60s detective show like Mannix: suave and savvy. Through it all, Bennett is the epitome in taste and style. Nothing too flashy, just doing his job, and does it well, a rare commodity these days.
For The Newly Blue has a whole different feel, but is attractive on its own terms. The band still includes Tretiak and Noble, but with a rotating team of bassists along with And Reiss/g, Dave Hoffner/key and Jim Hoke/sax. This time around the feel hearkens to the days of pop instrumentals. Think Santo and John’s “Sleepwalk” or material by Dick Dale, when rock bands made hits (or at least B sides) without singers. Much of the material such as “Velvet Rain” and “Nashville Nocturne” is strong enough on its own, yet you can envision these tunes supporting the likes of Tony Joe White or Solomon Burke. Blue collar blues served as a blue plate special.
Here’s a slick little film clip about the session as well:
Moderne Shellac Records