…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.