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Ron Sayer Jr. "Better Side" Album Reviews

to listen to a sampler of the album CLICK HERE

Full-on Blues with power and soul – what's not to like?

I saw Ron Sayer Jr supporting Popa Chubby and got the feeling that he was a real talent, even playing on borrowed kit (his own had been stolen the night before)! He was playing bass for Oli Brown last time I saw him and he also teaches, so this is a man who really does live and breathe his music.

Luckily, this bears out all the build-up. He isn't totally original, very few are, but he plays really well, has a fine voice and writes a mean song. He almost strays into jazzy territory with some tracks, 'I Ain't Leaving for instance, but when the band is at full pelt with organ and guitar playing against each other as he does on 'Bad Thing' it really is very tasty. The funk and drive of tracks like 'Manana' get you bouncing around the room and he can do slow and soulful well as well, just get a listen to 'Your Pleasure, My Pain'. He can also do humour without sounding cheesy, 'Mother In Law' is a terrific bit of New Orleans raunch.

One of the good things about the music 'biz' today is that it allows talents like Ron Sayer, who may not be playing music to please the masses, a voice. He is a hugely enjoyable guitarist and a fine singer to boot – this is a cracking album and well worth a listen.

Andy Snipper, Music News

Here is one of those little gems that comes along every now and then . . . a new name to me and the old saying 'you can never judge a book by the cover' certainly applies with Ron Sayer Jr. and "Better Side". A guitar slinger pictured on the cd booklet with a rather nice Fender Telecaster and classy amp, add in the 'Jr.' bit, and he's definitely American . . . only in this case he's not . . . hailing from Norfolk!

The 12 tracks that make up "Better Side" are a delight, with ten Sayer originals and just two covers . . . although the music is firmly blues-based, the emphasis is on great grooves with helpings of funk, soul, rock and jazz present. Ron Sayer is a mighty fine player with lovely touch and tone and a more than serviceable vocalist, calling his style an amalgamation of some of his favourite players, such as BB King, Rory Gallagher and Danny Gatton and slightly-less obvious guys such as Tab Benoit, Tommy Emmanuel and Audley Freed.

He's backed here by a fine group of musicians: Charlotte Joyce (backing vocals), Andy 'Mojo' Robinson (keyboards), Clive H Jones (bass) and Paul Wooden (drums), and together they are the perfect and sympathetic foil for Sayer's fretwork and vocals and a pretty tight outfit. The opening "Bad Thing" gets things off to a flyer, a funky guitar line from Sayer and nice organ playing from Andy Robinson, together with Charlotte Joyce's sultry backing vocal. Next up is "I Ain't Leaving", with this time Sayer's guitar in Larry Carlton and Robben Ford jazzy territory . . . again with the song centred on a great groove.

The soulful "Don't Make Me Stay" has a tougher edge to it, but again is beautifully performed by all concerned; Sayer and the band 'funk it up' on the driving "Manana"; and then comes probably the rockiest song here, "Right All The Time", which has a certain 'classic rock' feel to it. The uptempo boogie of "Piece Of Me" has fine piano from Robinson, and incisive guitar solo from Sayer, and is pushed along by the unfussy rhythm section of Jones and Wooden.

Elsewhere "Your Pleasure, My Pain" is a heartfelt slow blues; "My Mother In Law" is a funky blues cover, with Charlotte Joyce sharing the vocal spotlight; "Little White Lies" is another stand out – a gritty and funky blues tune. Sayer and band tackle Tab Benoit's "Baby Blue" as the album closer – the Louisiana guitarist's tune given a faithful rendition here, and a fine end to a most enjoyable release, which I've enjoyed more than most this year.

Grahame Rhodes, Blues In The North West

I first encountered Ron Sayer playing bass guitar for Oli Brown, now he releases his rather excellent cd 'Better Side', to show that not only is he a very proficient bass player but also a very talented song-writer and guitar player.

Ten of the songs out of the dozen here are originals and he shows a few influences through these songs. 'Manana' is steeped in the old school Level 42 vibe, bluesier numbers such as 'I Ain't Leaving' and 'Your Pleasure My Pain' hit the mark sweetly. The splendid duet with Charlotte on 'My Mother In Law' is another gem on the cd along with the low down and dirty 'What Would You Do?'

The musicianship is of a very high standard throughout, some very sweet keyboards and drums that mix through perfectly with the bass and guitar playing, produced to give us an aural delight.

There is probably a fair mix of styles on this cd to please everyone, all tinged with an infectious funkiness that I defy anyone not to at least tap their feet to. I could type pages about how good this cd is, but take my word and more besides from other more reputable and knowledgeable music people, that this is a cd worth buying.

An early contender for one of the cd's of 2012? You better believe it!!

Roger Allen, Fanzeyeview

Guitar whizz-kid Oli Brown has spearheaded something of a British blues revival over the past few years. Joining him for the latter part of his tour this year is Norwich's Ron Sayer Jr whose Paul Rodger's like voice and gift for clean, snappy solos on his favoured telecaster make Better Side a minor gem. Some if it feels a little rushed, but at his best on tracks like 'Don't Make Me Stay' and 'I Ain't Leaving', Sayer is a clever and unpredictable songwriter, aided by a terrific band.

  Martin Townsend, Sunday Express

As a blues jock, I am privileged to be sent a whole load of new music. One of the best things to come home to is a new CD; makes a change from the bills! The law of averages means that not every album is going to pass the test, mainly down to personal preferences - however, one recent arrival was an unexpected discovery.

Ron Sayer Jr was a new name to me so I wasn't sure what to expect when I put the CD into my laptop. What happened next was that I found one of the best albums to arrive recently. It certainly stands up against any of the so-called bigger name releases I have received and I would seriously recommend the album to anyone.

The main selling point for me is the variety of the tracks and the consistently high standards of playing. Something for everyone!

Beginning with the up-tempo funky style of Bad Thing, the second track is Rons' personal favourite, I Ain't Leaving, which slows things down a bit and features some tasty guitar work. The punchy Don't Make Me Stay is followed by Manana, another funky and fun track.

Right All The Time is a bit of a rocker and for me, the main riff could have come from someone like Thunder; I can definitely see this one as a live favourite. You Can Cry is the midway point and leads to my favourite track; as a fan of toe tappers, Piece Of Me truly hits the spot. You will definitely hear this one on Blues Train at some point!

Your Pleasure, My Pain has a slower groove and some tasty organ; the band members Andy Robinson, Clive H Jones and Paul Wooden play terrifically throughout and certainly lay a solid base for Ron to show his skills. The old Etta James track My Mother In Law is next and allows Ron and his 'other half' Charlotte to interact nicely, she has a great voice and its a fun tune.

On to the final straight now, with Little White Lies coming up next, another funky blues tune, with a cool guitar solo; What Would You Do? being fairly laid back and leading into the final offering, Baby Blue which features one of my favourite guitar breaks on the album.

As a mostly self written album, this is a very strong release. Being sent so much music means I sometimes don't get the chance to fully digest everything but this is one CD I will definitely be keeping in touch with!"

Dave Watkins, Blues Train, FromeFM.

This is a very typical blues rock record, and, at first, seems like it's not going to do much to earn it's place in your record collection. The thing is, and it's with this that Ron Sayer Jr's new record is so surprising, that it really is rather a good disc. There's nothing flying at you from far out in the left field, and there aren't too many chances taken, but this really is a good record. Let's see if I can explain why…

Let's start with the fact that Ron himself is obviously a very talented guitar player, and he's no slouch as a vocalist either, both are put front and centre on this disc, and are well worthy of attention. He's backed by an extremely tight band, who know exactly what to do to provide the star with room to shine, they aren't unobtrusive though, having, keys and drums in particular, moments of individual greatness. There are many moments where things get eerily familiar when it comes to Ron's playing there are clear nods to some of the genre's greats, Robben Ford and Matt Schofield are recalled in the phasing and note choices throughout the record, 'Mañana' has a real belter of a solo which has some country picking blended with his blues, much as you hear from Buddy Whittington, and the whole album's blending of funk and traditional blues recall, at least for me, the likes of Chris Duarte at his best. Don't take it that Ron is a copyist though, because while these nods are there and somewhat obvious, he's blending some rather disparate styles and coming out on top as himself.

Song wise the album is also darn fine, it treads, for a large part, on familiar blues territory. There are many songs of dysfunctional relationships, and while the subject is familiar the treatment is light in touch and has a wry humor that makes for an enjoyable listen. I can certainly identify and empathize with the characters Ron is inhabiting, and the songs feel at home together. It's a cohesive whole and makes for an easy listen. So it's not a record that has blown me away, but I really did enjoy every bit of it. It's easy to listen to, there are some amazing feats of musicianship, some good songs and a great quality recording. So, while it may not bring anything new to the table, what it does bring is a finely crafted refinement of it's influences, as if a chef has taken some good ingredients and transformed them into something sublime. Check it out if you can as it's well worth your while


Ron Sayer Jr. Gig Reviews

The Robin 2 in Wolverhampton:
I'd not heard of Ron Sayer Jr and resisted the urge to do the myspace thing prior to the gig...far too many times, just lately, have I gone to a gig with extremely high expectations only to be let down by a weak live performance. The opposite can also be true, weak myspace, great gig, but this is a rarity so these days I'd sooner go in without any preconceived perceptions of how the gig will go.
As soon as he walked on stage I thought "Clapton" and I wasn't far off the mark. Ron has a very Claptonesque, easy flow, no rush approach to the blues - playing one note to everyone else's 15. But don't get me wrong like "Mr C" he can turn up the heat when required and then take it down at the flick of a switch.
During the set he gave a good mix of covers and original material mixing blues, funk and rock effectively. From his own stable "Little White Lies" really stood out for me, tis a great live track.
All in all an extremely enjoyable set and I'm sure that we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr Sayer Jr in the future!
Reviewer: Rob Stanley

The Boom Boom Club, Sutton
Support for Popa Chubby was from a new name to me – Ron Sayer Jr. I expect to be hearing a fair bit more from him in the future.
He gave us a good 40 minutes of Blues and rock and mixed up the originals and some covers including Free's 'The Stealer' but his original songs are good enough to focus on. 'Little White Lies' is a funky and danceable number and 'What Would You Do' reminded me of Ian Parker with a dense sound and great riff. His guitar style is full on and he solos well and he has a fair voice to go with it. The audience was very appreciative and he has a good way with them – one to watch.
Reviewer: Andy Snipper

The Walnut Tree Shades, Norwich
Tonight at the walnut tree shades I went and saw the mind blowing Ron Sayer and his band. It has been a long while since I have heard a band such as this! Ron is possibly one of the best guitarists that I have heard in the local area! His singing is soulful and spot on and his guitar skills are out of this world!
As for the rest of his band, well, it's very, very rare that a band is this tight and the communication between them while playing definitely paid off!
Their first set was filled with songs by the likes of Robben Ford, Peter Green and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Truly great stuff!
Their 2nd and strongest set was full of even more delights! With songs from greats such as Gary Moore, Robert Johnson and possibly some of the greatest covers of Hendrix possible. Everyone who reads this must go and see this man and his band! You will not regret it!
Reviewer: Nick Hall