Ear Worms

The Duke Robillard Band

Stony Plain 2019

Review by David Bowling


Duke Robillard’s career has passed the 50 year mark and is still going strong. One of the founders of Roomful Of Blues and a member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds for a number of years; he has always maintained a solo career as well. He is a blues guitarist extraordinaire and his 30 plus solo albums have explored the blues idiom from a number of directions.

Ear Worms is his latest release and it is an appropriate title. Twelve of the 13 tracks are songs that have styed in his head, or his ears, for decades. Songs by Brenda Lee, The Neville Brothers, Link Wray, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, and more, are re-imagined after staying with him for years. It adds up to a passionate, personal, and unique album by one of the great living blues guitarists.

Emblematic of his personal approach is his cover of the pop tune “Everyday I Have To Cry.” The Arthur Alexander tune is best remembered for versions by Steve Alaimo and Dusty Springfield but it is obscure British pop artist Julie Grant’s recording that he remembers. He found Grant and had her provide the vocal, while he gave the guitar sound a modern feel.

Link Wray’s “Rawhide” has been a favorite of guitarists for several generations. It is unadulterated rock and roll. Another reach back into rock and roll history is ‘Sweet Nothin'” by Brenda Lee. Sunny Crownover’s lead vocal gives it an authenticity and Robillard moves it in new directions with his guitar. “Yes We Can” is a cool psychedelic jam type piece.

The only original tune is also a reach back into his personal history. “Don’t Bother Trying To Steal He Love” was written during the 1980’s and has been re-recorded once. Now it reaches its final form as a rhythm & blues tune.

Ear Worms is a personal journey through Duke Robillard’s  musical roots, with some modernization along the way. One of his better and more interesting recent albums.

Rating: ****