Get this crazy baby off my head!


Al Miller

Al Miller - Wild Cards - 1995 - Delmark

Al Miller had been contributing to the Chicago blues scene for over 30 years when, in 1994, he finally recorded his first album as a leader, Wild Cards. The singer/guitarist/harpist was far from a huge name in the blues world, but then, a lack of commercial success wasn't something that discouraged Delmark founder Bob Koester—if Koester felt that a blues or jazz artist deserved to be documented, he would put out an album regardless of how obscure he/she was. For this enjoyable, if unremarkable, session, Delmark hired Dave Specter (an excellent guitarist who shouldn't be confused with software public relations man David Spector) to do the producing and employed his guitar on eight of its 14 selections. The personnel varies from song to song, and the CD's vocals are handled not only by Miller, but also, by Willie Kent, Tad Robinson (whose gruff style recalls Dave Prater of Sam & Dave) and Steve Freund. Miller, in fact, lays out on six tracks—in other words, he lays out on almost half of his own album. Electric Chicago blues is Wild Cards' primary focus, although the CD successfully detours into 1960s-type soul on "Stuck in Chicago" and acknowledges jazz with a gutsy version of Gene Ammons' "Red Top." Specter isn't heard on the latter, which is surprising because the bluesman is heavily influenced by jazz and would have been perfect for the tune. Wild Cards isn't fantastic, but it's a competent offering from an artist who deserved to be documented as a leader. © Alex Henderson, allmusic.com

A good straightforward blues/soul/jazz album from the obscure Chicago singer, harmonica and guitar player Al Miller. The album was recorded on Feburary 14 and 15, 1994 at Riverside Studios, Chicago, and produced by Dave Specter, who plays guitar on "I Don't Play", "Stuck In Chicago", "Seventy-Four", "Can't Stay Here No More", "Deal The Cards", "I Had A Dream", "Jockey Blues", and "Blues For John Littlejohn". The album also includes Steve Freund on vocals, and guitar, and there are guest vocals by Tad Robinson & Willie Kent. "Wild Cards" deserves a listen, as artists like Al Miller play authentic blues with sincerity and feeling, and definitely not for the money. Buy his "...In Between Time" album


1. I Don't Play (Dixon) - 3:34
2. Stuck in Chicago (Cate) - 3:50
3. Seventy-Four (Love, Temple) - 6:50
4. Long Grey Mare (Green, Green) - 4:05
5. Can't Stay Here No More (Miller) - 5:12
6. Special Way (Miller) - 4:31
7. Deal the Cards (Young) - 5:23
8. Red Top Boogie (Hampton, Kynard) - 4:22
9. Fallin' Rain (Tucker) - 5:18
10. I Had a Dream (Charles) - 6:15
11. Jockey Blues (Hooker) - 5:07
12. Big 'C' Blues (Bloomfield) - 5:05
13. Blues for John Littlejohn (Funchess) - 6:24
14. Sittin' Here Thinkin' (Taylor) - 4:08


Al Miller (Guitar),(Harmonica),(Drums), (Harp), (Vocals)
Steve Freund (Guitar), (Vocals)
Dave Specter (Guitar)
Willie Kent (Bass), (Vocals)
Mike McCurdy, Harlan Terson (Bass)
Donny Nichilo (Piano)
Ken Saydak (Organ), (Piano)
Phil Baron (Organ)
Mark Fornek (Drums)
Dez Desormeaux (Sax (Baritone), (Sax (Tenor)
John Brumbach (Sax (Tenor)
Rob Mazurek (Trumpet)
Don Stiernberg (Mandolin)
Tad Robinson (Vocals)