Jeff Pitchell
Playin’ With My Friends

Deguello Records
Publicity:  Blind Raccoon

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2023

Jeff Pitchell’s ninth release is titled Playin’ With My Friends, and let me tell you, those friends are many.   Along with Jeff, on lead and backing vocals, guitar, bass and drums, the thirteen new tracks – of which nine are originals – feature duets and guest spots with Duane Betts on guitar; Charles Neville on horns; Claudette King on vocals; J. Geils on slide guitar; Rick Derringer on vocals and guitar; Christine Ohlman on vocals; and Tyrone Vaughan on vocals and guitar. 
The disc opens with what is probably Jeff’s most famous song.  It’s titled “Eye For An Eye” and along with it garnering him an award at The International Songwriting Contest, the song was also recorded by John Mayall on his “Tough” album.  It’s a classic shuffle with a fabulous foot tappin, knee slappin’, body shakin’ rhythm groove from Wolf (bass), Floyd (drums) and killer guitar leads from Jeff.  Winning a songwriting competition is obviously due to the song’s lyrics, but for me, it was Jeff’s dynamite vocal presentation that did the trick.  Easily one of the disc’s best.

Another of Jeff’s originals is an all-out smoker titled “Prisoner Of Love”.  It features the tandem guitar work of Jeff and the late great J. Geils going toe to toe on lead and slide guitar; flaming horn highlights from the four-piece horn section; Marty dishing out a whooping on the drum kit while having absolutely no mercy on the cymbals; and dynamic lead and backing vocals ‘tween Jeff, Theresa and Nekita.  This is how you rock the blues. 
On their rendition of “So Into You” (R. Nix/D. Daughtry/B. Buie), a smash hit for The Atlanta Rhythm Section about forty years ago, Jeff and friends do such a masterful job they’d probably have a hit with it today as well.  With this being the third different rhythm section on three different songs, it’s also the third rhythm section that’s absolutely killing it.  This time it comes from the hands of David (bass) and Lynne (drums).  Add to that the great Reese Wynans on keys and the late great Charles Neville on saxophone and that already fabulous rhythm just jumped up a few notches. Then there’s Mr. Pitchell… damn can this guy sing!
If scorching hot blues guitar licks get you going, this original will not leave you “Out In the Cold”.  It features Jeff teaming up on a duet with Jimmie’s son and Stevie’s nephew – Tyrone Vaughan.  Even better than them sharing the vocals is hearing them spar on guitar leads.  Yep, the blood sure ran blue in the Vaughan family.  Meanwhile, it’s now John (bass) and Steve (drums) who are now responsible for the ever-present profound rhythm. 
It’s stuff like this that will keep the dance floor filled “All Night Long”.  It’s another of Jeff’s songs, and it’s also one that features another heir to great guitar genes – this time it’s Duane Betts tearing it up on the ax.  By now it goes without say, but this ruthless rhythm is coming from Marty (drums) who’s now teamed up with Dave (bass), Danny (piano) and Jimmy (saxophone); and, with a voice as powerful as his, Linda Ransom and Jeff are rockin’ out the vocals.
Back in the day, I was never a fan of Rick Derringer, but listening to “Unsung Hero Of The Blues” – a song he and Jeff co-wrote – I now find myself wondering why.  With these two duking it out, this one features some serious guitar slinging. 

 Since I’m only halfway through the disc and have already touched on half of its songs, I’m pretty sure just saying that is a testament in itself.  However, before I close, I want to tell you about a track that features just the bare three pieces.  Sometimes on an album of this magnitude, with so many musicians making so much music, it’s refreshing – and calming – to just hear a beautifully sung Bobby Blue Bland song, with masterful guitar, bass and drum work – and that’s just what Jeff, Mike and Ephraim are giving you on “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog” (D. Walsh/M Omartian/M. Price/ S. Barri).
Other tracks on this must have release are: “Your Magic Eyes”; “Blinded By Desire”; Fat Cigars”; and “I Like Rut” – all JP originals or compilations; with “Not Guilty” (B. Feiner); and the title track, “Playin’ With My Friends” (R. Cray/ D. Walker).
Generally, when a release has more musicians than some countries’ armed forces, with 6-8 bassists, 6-8 drummers, 6-8 keyboardists, etc. – it’s impossible to list them all and more impossible to figure out who is doing what and on which track they are doing it.  That said, of the thousands of discs I’ve reviewed, the ‘spread sheet’ type listing included with Playin’ With My Friends made that task a piece of cake and a pleasure to work with.  Kudos and thanks to JP for that. 

Contributors not listed above include: Wolf Ginades, Jesse Williams, David Smith, John O’Boyle, Dave Natale, and Mike Nunno on bass; Floyd Murphy, Jr., Marty Richards, Lynne Williams, Steve Bankuti, Jason Arnold, Ephraim Lowell and Steve Peck on drums; Ivan Santiago on percussion; Jeff Levine, Bruce Bears, Reese Wynans, Danny Fontanella, Teo Layasmeyer, Bruce Feiner, Bob Leinbach and Billy Holloman on keys; Jim Hogan, Rich Lataille, Scott Heff, Scott Aruda, Jimmy Biggins and Billy Holloman on horns; and Theresa Wright, Nekita Waller, Linda Ransom and Billy Holloman on backing vocals.

Should like to find out more about Jeff Pitchell, just go to –  Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you. 

The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient

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