Gary Herbig

Friends to Lovers

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This saxman's horns have been used by everyone from Elvis to the Kids From Fame over the years, but don't hold that against him. He had one of 1988's most underrated debuts, a self-titled effort that featured some of L.A.'s best musicians. His follow-up a year later cooked just as intensely, although poor label support led Herbig to go back to the sidelines and abandon the quest for solo stardom -- a great pity. Though this disc lacks the Bill Champlin vocal tracks that put the first one into orbit, there's still so much to love here: the bouncy and melodic R&B of the title cut, some gospel-like blues (with the help of Don Grusin and Greg Matheson) on the steamy "Manhattan Lady," the soaring lite funk of "Follow Me," and a tad of happy blues on "Pride and Joy." Herbig seems to favor tunes of the expressive, soulful variety and sticks mostly to midtempo grooves to weave his hefty horn licks in and out of. Also at work here are Pat Kelley's hot guitar on the title cut and on his own composition, the sweet "Ozone Avenue." And finally, Herbig embraces romance with the steamy "Never Say Never."

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