MIKE ZITO – Live From The Top (Gulf Coast Records)

Live From The TopMike Zito, Blues Music Award winner whose 2018 album First Class Life entered the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart at number one, has re-released Live From The Top. The re-release whets the appetite for a three-part tour of America, Europe (Germany, Holland, Belgium and France) and the UK from January to April.

I missed Live From The Top first time round but it’s got a great live feel to it. The songs were recorded over two nights and, without eliding the tracks together, have been put together in a way that keeps the sense of a great night out. The band are in a groove, with guests Teresa James, Ana Popovic, Curtis Salgado, Nick Moss, Jimmy Carpenter – and Zito’s guitar cutting vibrantly through the night time.

Many years ago I sat in a Blues Club in Boston (UK, sadly but nonetheless it was a damn good blues venue which is now gone, even more sadly) listening to someone play Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ and realised that the song was the standard by which I judged blues/rock bands. Zito and his band nail it in a nine-minute version that feels all too brief – it’s atmospheric enough that I stopped writing, turned the volume up and just listened while it played.

The album opens with ‘Natural Born Lover’ and I’ve put a link in the video below to a version where you get the feel for Zito and his band playing live. There are thirteen tracks in total. Other highlights include ‘Ice Cream Man’, ‘Pearl River’, an interesting almost country rock feel on ‘One Step At A Time’, the harmonica heavy ‘19 Years Old’, and the slow blues of ‘All Last Night’.

Live From The Top has got just about everything you’d want from a live blues album. Dates for the real thing are on Zito’s website, the tour advertised as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute To Chuck Berry Tour’ in support of a new album of the same name.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.mikezito.com

‘Natural Born Lover’ – live: