The U.S. release of Melvin Taylor's two early-'80s LPs by Evidence a decade later was a shock introduction to a blues guitarist who seemingly blazed out of nowhere -- outside of Rosa's Lounge in Chicago, that is. "Blazed" is the right word, too, because Taylor is a total maximalist who unleashes torrents of notes to fill up every space. But he's so convincing a player that the concept of "blues guitar hero" might get a good name again, even with fans dead-tired of excess who never thought they'd think things like, "Man, can Melvin Taylor play the ever-loving (add the expletive superlative of your choice) out of the guitar" again. Taylor's first real-time release, Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band, is a pretty straightforward affair -- basic trio with minimal overdubs, servicable vocals in an Albert King mode, and a mix of originals and very classic covers. The opening "Texas Flood" lets him rip on a slow blues, constantly changing up his playing with wah-wah blitzes as the real ace in his sonic hole. The originals "Depression Blues" and "Groovin' in New Orleans" add some funk flair, while "Talking to Anna Mae" is a straight-up Chicago boogie instrumental that Taylor shines on. But he's even more in his element on the unadorned slow blues "Tin Pan Alley" and King's "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong." It's partly the speed but even more the phrasing -- the unexpected stops and starts, the spiky and blazing runs and flurries, the unusual note selections he tosses in -- that sets his playing apart. The other covers have their sporadic moments -- "T-Bone Shuffle" is inconsequential, but Otis Rush's "All Your Love" and "Voodoo Chile" are worth listening to, even if the latter doesn't add anything to the famous Hendrix wah-wah workout. Taylor actually doesn't sound that radical here, like he was playing to establish blues circuit credentials by putting his stamp on familiar songs more than indulging offbeat personal touches like the mellow lounge jazz take on the Champs' "Tequila." But his playing can be truly electrifying and Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band is recommended for anyone, especially Stevie Ray Vaughan fans, looking for a distinctive new blues guitar voice.
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AllMusic Review by Don Snowden