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Roger Girke – Piece Of Work – A Collection | Album Review

Roger Girke – Piece Of Work – A Collection.
RG3 Records.
9 tracks; 41 minutes.

Roger Girke has been playing since the 1970’s and this is his fourth release under his own name. Based in Delaware, Roger plays mainly in the NE states with regular performances in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. A pleasant voice and clear guitar picking are the hallmarks of his style and this self-produced album shows off those talents on nine original songs. The other interesting feature is that the album blends four brand new tracks with samples from his other albums which date back to 2001, so this represents something of an anthology of his work, making it a great place to start for those unfamiliar with Roger’s work.

On the new material Roger is supported by Glenn Farracone on drums with husband and wife team Paul Klinefelter on bass and Terry Klinefelter on piano. On the one cut from his 2008 album a bigger sound is provided by Pete Kanaras on second guitar, Jim Orr on piano, Glenn Bickel on organ, Dave Ward on harp, Patrick Bickel on bass and David Rainey on drums. Three tracks come from a 2004 CD, one a solo acoustic piece, the other two featuring Ian Greaves on drums, Bennett Sykes on bass and Glenn Bickel on keys; one track adds a second guitarist, album engineer Joe LaSorte. Finally a cut from his first album in 2001 adds Wade Clark’s sax to the 2004 band. It is worth noting that both the 2004 and 2008 were recognised at the IBCs by making the final list of self-produced CDs and the sound quality throughout is excellent.

The four new cuts offer a good overview of Roger’s abilities. “I’ve Made Mistakes” is a solid slow blues with some fine guitar picking. This one is a trio performance but Terry Klinefelter’s piano is an integral part of the other three tracks. Album opener “I’m Crazy About My Baby” is a fun shuffle about a girl “…who never knows what she’s gonna say or do”. “Suitcase Of Memories” is a slower shuffle in which Roger reminisces but concludes that going forward is more important than looking back. “Cat’s Eye Tonight” starts slowly but gets up a head of steam as Roger invites us to a club called the Cat’s Eye which we are told “…got no food, only a few tables, might find a place to stand if you’re able. Loud blues all night long, we’re taking a ride, you can’t go wrong”. Sounds like the sort of night all blues fans should enjoy!

From 2008’s “Shake It” album we get “Thick As Thieves” which was clearly recorded live. The larger band gives a good account of itself on a number that resembles “Lonely Avenue” in terms of the churning rhythm, Roger’s thick guitar tones being ably supported by the harp and piano.

Three very different tracks are reprised from 2004’s “My Baby Loves That Stuff”. “September” is a solo piece with Roger doubling up on acoustic and slide dobro guitars. Roger’s excellent vocal delivers a strong song with emotive lyrics about a former relationship: “September memories make a melancholy man of me; reminds me of you and what we used to be.” “You’re Right, I’m Wrong” is an upbeat shuffle which opens with Roger’s crystal clear guitar ringing out, a style maintained in his strong solo. In contrast “Daddy” is a slow blues in which Roger’s guitar is well supported by the organ playing of Glenn Bickel. The track opens with a lengthy guitar statement before Roger’s plaintive vocal asks why his Dad had to leave, followed by a torrid solo – a very effective blues.

The 2001 cut sounds like another live cut, more of a jump style tune in “Take Your Funky Butt Home”. The interplay between the two guitars is good and Roger’s subsequent solo short but sweet. The piano supports really well throughout and gets a solo too though the sax stays mainly in the background.

Overall this is a very enjoyable collection which shows that Roger Girke is a talented player, singer and writer well worth checking out. Recommended.

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