Jim Belushi

Have Love Will Travel

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Give Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd credit for at least one thing: the subtitle of "Big Men - Big Music" to their 2003 album, Have Love Will Travel, is pretty fun, and partially accurate. The two comedians-cum-retro-bluesmen are indeed big men, and they at the very least have a big band: the back cover features no less than 12 musicians, including the duo, begging the question of just how much does the Have Love Will Travel Revue actually pull in per gig. That's a question better settled by accountants and auditors, of course, but a lot of musicians does mean that the music at the very least sounds busy, even if it doesn't necessarily sound big. But that's really no change from Aykroyd's previous musical excursion, the Blues Brothers, who always utilized a big band to make faithful music. The difference between that group -- besides the sorely missed manic energy and fervent belief of John Belushi -- is that the Blues Brothers essentially stole the Stax house band, added Paul Shaffer, and had a first-class collection of professional musicians that managed to give dimension to John and Dan's sincere love for soul and R&B (despite their name, the Blues Brothers never recorded that much blues and neither does the Have Love Will Travel Revue, for that matter). In the place of such luminaries as Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn are journeymen that get the job done, and the results are listenable, sometimes enjoyable, never inspired. But it does give Belushi and Aykroyd room to roam, meaning they can indulge in hammy, boozy vocals to their hearts' content, where even the backing vocal on the title track has the smack of showbiz. There's no mistaking the duo's intent and their good taste -- anybody who digs out Ray Charles' "Greenbacks" and knows that the Outsiders' "Time Won't Let Me" can be adapted for a blues revue can't be faulted -- but it's that showbiz heart that shines through in the smug satisfaction in their performance, that keeps this from being as engaging as the Blues Brothers' recorded work, though it's perfectly competent and will likely appeal to those who loved that earlier duo, even if it's not as compelling.

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