“Cohorts & Accomplices”
Mosher St. Records
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2022
Not only has John Morana – better known as Midnite Johnny – been a personal friend for forty plus years, but by having had most of his releases reviewed by us; and having had songs on several of our “Keeping The Blues Alive” compilation CDs; he’s a long time part of the Mary4Music family, as well.
Cohorts & Accomplices is Johnny’s fifth release and it’s his third on Mosher St. Records. Now living in the UK, the so called ‘cohorts’ the title refers to are singer, songwriter & guitarist Midnite Johnny’s home based band: Paul Burgess on drums; Norm Helm on bass; and Ian Cross on keyboards. The so called ‘accomplices’ are special guests: Elliott Randall on guitar; Rod Mayall on Hammond B3; Johnny “Boy” Pryers on vocals/harmony; Steve Gibson on maracas/tambourine; Jon Brindly on vocals (all UK based); and Rockin’ Jake Jacobs on harp; Cadillac Chuck Grundt on vocals and harp; Yoel Hyman on brass; and Gigi DeNisco on vocal harmony (all USA based). The disc contains ten tracks plus four more that Johnny calls bonus tracks. Of those fourteen total, seven are John Morana originals and seven are covers.
The disc opens with a track addressing a situation that a large majority of blues songs have been written about – the saga of a man/woman being mistreated by a woman/man – depending, of course, on who is singing it. In this case, being written and sung by Johnny, the song is about a mean, mistreating woman. It features the cohorts, with some extra added help from accomplices Rod and Yoel on the B3 and horns, in a monster rhythm groove; and Johnny, laying down some scorching blues guitar leads while belting the heck out those “Mean Woman Blues”.
This is another of Johnny’s originals and the subject matter is similar to above. It’s titled “Hey Now Baby” as in: “Hey now baby, I’m so tired of you”; and “Hey now baby, where’d you spend last night?” According to Johnny, if the tears this woman’s caused him to shed were money, he’d be rich. The track is highlighted by fabulous harp blowin’ from Fort Lauderdale maestro, “Rockin’ Jake” Jacobs.
“My Heart Keeps Turning” is a sure dance floor filler with a great mix of soul, R&B and funk. It features the Johnny’s – Morana and Pryers – teaming up on dynamic lead and harmony vocals; Paul, Norm and Ian banging out what could be the disc’s best rhythm; and Midnite Johnny closing out the track with a minute-and-a-half long funkadelic guitar outburst. Wow!
Surprisingly, this is not a song about a doctor jokingly telling you not to buy one, but it is called “Green Banana”. It’s actually an instrumental which features Johnny (guitar), Paul (drums), Norm (bass) Ian (organ) and Yoel (horns) individually and collectively showcasing their masterful musical talents.
Thanks to Paul absolutely killin’ the kit from start to finish; Johnny sliding up, down and all around his guitar; Steve and his instruments of percussion; and another Ft. Lauderdale favorite, Cadillac Chuck, blowin’ the heck out of the harp and forming a formidable duet with Johnny on vocals; “Too Much” is another killer track.
While reading the song listing, before even listening to any of them, I had pretty much determined I’d be saying something about Fenton Robinson’s “Somebody Loan Me A Dime”. C’mon, it’s over five minutes of slow scorching blues and knowing Midnite Johnny as I do, he does slow, scorching blues as good as anyone. Needless to say, this one got several replays. Great stuff indeed!
The four bonus tracks are so interesting and so different from the other tracks so I want to collectively tell you a bit about them. They are: “You’re A Big Girl Now” (Bob Dylan); “We’re All The Way” (Don Williams); “Crazy Mama” (J.J. Cale); and an original titled “Nothin’ Left To Say”. Featuring a laid back vibe with relaxed rhythm; beautiful lead and harmony vocals from the voices of Johnny, Jon and Gigi; and masterful slide and acoustic guitar work by Johnny; all four are worthy of not just listening, but airplay, as well.
Other tracks on Cohorts & Accomplices include: “Mean Ole Frisco” (Arthur Crudup); “Livin’ Like A Trucker” (Rory Gallagher); another original titled “Lyin’ Eyes”; and “Walkin’ Blues” (Son House).
Of course, for more about Midnite Johnny, just go to www.midnite-johnny.com or like his FB page. As usual, tell whomever you contact that their friend The Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy“
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
P. O. Box 9346
Coral Springs, FL 33075-9346
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient