Vance KellyTell Me Why: His Best 15 Songs
Wolf Records

Vance Kelly is a seasoned Chicago-based blues artist who plays some very fine guitar and has a distinctly soulful voice. Having worked around the Windy City for the past few decades, including a stint in A.C. Reed’s band, he has developed a strong fan base and has released a handful of recordings on the German Wolf label, known for showcasing often overlooked Chicago blues artists.

His latest recording with his unit The Backstreet Blues Band, Tell Me Why, is subtitled as His Best 15 Songs which notes audience favorites from his career and offers cover gems from artists such as Z.Z. Hill, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Sir Mack Rice and others compiled from his previous Wolf releases. There are also four newly recorded numbers including takes of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Billy Roberts’ “Hey Joe” (best known for the cover by Jimi Hendrix). Both of these tracks truly allow Kelly to stretch out on his guitar. He can work it with a number of notes, but really draws out the emotional emphasis in everything he plays. And Kelly does not just perform covers of other musicians’ music; he’s also a capable and gifted songwriter, penning several original tracks on this outing.

The Backstreet Blues Band currently is made up of keyboardist John Walls, Mark Miller on bass and Shawn Lewis throwing down multiple instruments including drums, guitar and harmonica. But over the years, and displayed on several tracks here, Kelly has employed some monster Chicago musicians such as Big James Montgomery on trombone, guitarist John Primer, sax master Eddie Shaw and harp ace Billy Branch, among others.

This is a fine collection for anybody looking for an introduction to Vance Kelly and his soulful Chicago blues.

Total Time: 79:02

Twenty Four Hours / Wall To Wall / Foot Loose & Fancy Free / Doing My Own Thang / Members Only / I Stay Mad / Purple Rain / Drivin’ Wheel / Tell Me Why / Love Of Mine / Bad Taste In My Mouth / You Steppin’ Out / Highway Here I Come / Mustang Sally / Hey Joe