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…Took A While

The Mike Duke Project

Little Village Foundation 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Sometimes it is the journey that matters. Forty years is a long time to prepare for the release of a debut album.

Mike Duke has been the house band leader of the Rancho Nicasio, a San Francisco Road House, for almost 20 years and earlier was a member of Delbert McClinton’s backing band. His biggest claim to fame and fortune, so far, was as a songwriter. He penned several hits songs for Huey Lewis back in the 1980’s including “Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do” and “Doin’ It All For My Baby.”

“…Took A While” is an album of bits and pieces spread out over the years. It includes demos, including those he sent Huey Lewis, four new tracks, and a piano piece recorded live at Rancho Nicasio.

The heart of the album are the new tunes. They have a southern rock tint and Elvin Bishop sits in on “I Can’t Let You Go.” They also benefit from being finished songs, where his piano and soulful voice is surrounded by a full band.

1977’s “Coming ‘Round Again” has a backing band and brass section, while “That’s What She Does For Me” is just Duke on keyboards with a drum machine in support.

Mike Dukes has leaned his lessons well and proves that he can produce listenable rock. Hopefully an album of all new tunes will follow.

Rating: ***