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CHRIS FARLOWE Hotel Eingang ROK8012CD (2008)

Chris Farlowe

Chris Farlowe's 'Hotel Eingang' takes its name from the humorous story told on the CD's closing track when Farlowe and his young band first went to Hamburg in 1961. 47 Years on plenty has changed, he's man of the world and his current band are made of heavyweight players such as multi instrumentalist Miller Anderson (Keef Hartley/Spencer Davis/Chicken Shack), drummer Paul Burgess (10 CC) and former Edgar Broughton bass man Kris Gray to name but a few.

On the other hand musically not a lot has changed as it's the tried and tested formula for Farlowe ‘the voice', who like many other esteemed vocalists has spent the majority of his career looking for great songs to match his peerless vocal phrasing. And in many respects the 12 tracks excluding the closing biographical story, are a fair balance representing his still confident voice, which finds a true context in a mixture of blues, boogie, ballads and even a dash of soul on Robert Cray's ‘Baby's Arms'.

Perhaps the only questionable addition to the formula is Sarah Jory's pedal steel, which though immaculately played (Farlowe affords her a two bar solo on an emotive reading of Boz Scaggs' ‘I've Got Your Love') adds an inevitable Country feel to some MOR material; But overall the pro's override the cons starting with Miller Anderson's nicely distorted guitar intro on the sizzling boogie of ‘So Hard To Get Along With' as well his slide guitar on the brusque rocker The Woman or The Blues'.

Like many a vocalist before him Farlowe has always sought to strike a balance between material he enjoys performing and a profile relevant to the times, witness Tom Jones's mega shift from Soul singer to Las Vegas balladeer and even self parody.

Chris seems happiest on ‘I Only Have Love For You', a funky work out with Miller on harp and a killer horn arrangement that finds room for a double sax and trumpet workout. The band work up real head of steam as Farlowe and The Chanter Sisters add their call and respo nse vocals. The other highlight is the smoking 'I'd Rather Be Lying With You', the kind of mellow ballad that might give him an outside chance of radio play.

Either way, long time fans will enjoy this album and those of us who have been out of the Farlowe loop for a few years will doubtless be surprised at his undiminished vocal dexterity


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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