Live From El Paso

In her first live compilation: "Laura Tate - Live from El Paso," Laura Tate and her band of top Los Angeles-area musicians take us on a tour of the ups and downs of love from sultry torch songs to tough love ballads. With crowd favorites from her previous four albums, this "best of Laura Tate" collection moves smoothly from jazz and blues to rock and Americana, but each section features Laura's own interpretation.  

Critics raved about her take on the Thin Lizzy rock classic "The Boys Are Back In Town," released in 2017 on her "Let's Just Be Real" CD. At the live concert, that hit and other favorites take on fresh life, while new works, some of which were written for her, provide the right soundtrack for happy hours, road trips, romantic nights -- or any time your mood needs a boost.

Laura Tate: All lead vocals 
Terry Wilson: Bass guitar,, vocals 
Teresa James: Vocals 
Doug Hamblin: Lead guitar 
Jeff Paris: Piano, vocals 
Tony Braunagel: Drums 
Lee Thornberg: Trombone 
Joe Sublett: Saxophone 
Darrell Leonard: Trumpet

Live From El Paso

Laura Tate - Singer, Actress

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Track by Track Review

By Peter Merrett PBS 106.7FM Melbourne, Australia

Track 1. - "No Place To Hide" Composed by Mel Harker and Pat Schunk.

Texas is certainly alive when Texan chartreus Laura Tate takes the stage at the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre accompanied by a stellar all star band. Instantly establishing a beguiling sultry mood Tate's vocals are sensuous and stunning to the ear. The band is one you dream of and from the very first note it is obvious that this will be a showcase of some extraordinary talent. The brass entourage led by saxophonist Joe Sublett is bolstered by trumpeter Darrell Leonard and trombonist Lee Thornburg who provide the most mesmerizing of performances. Jeff Parris is stunning not only on piano but also provides backing vocals that add to the overall beauty of the song. Laura Tate's vocals are sublimely backed by not only Jeff Paris but also by Teresa James, Terry Wilson and the results speak volumes. Guitarist Doug Hamblin lays down some mighty fine runs but is suitably subtle in his approach. The rhythm section is one that simply shines with drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson providing this most infectious of tempos. The presentation and performance of this Mel Harker and Pat Schunk composition is mesmerizing and what an introduction to this highly anticipated album it is.

Track 2. - "I'll Find Someone Who Will " Composed by Terry Wilson and Teresa James. 

Straight out of the Texas song book this one composed by Terry Wilson and Teresa James originally for Santa Monic California Bluesman Coco Montoya is the perfect song for Laura Tate and her band to expand upon and stamp their very own identity on. Tate's vocals have a boldness, a firmness and a bit of sass for good measure and the results are scintillating. The band present a powerful statement with their piano driven style courtesy of pianist Jeff Parris. The brass once again is big and bold with stunning runs from saxophonist Joe Sublett, Lee Thornburg on trombone and Darrell Leonard on trumpet. The rhythm section of drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson are boisterous in their playing and comfortably drive this infectious cadence along never wavering. Doug Hamblin lays down some very cool guitar throughout and again it is more subtle than being in your face with big solos, there is a real deft touch about his playing. Rounding out the sound is the wonderful backing vocals of Teresa James, Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris who elevate the sound into the stratosphere. The quality of this performance beggars belief that it is indeed not a studio recording.

Track 3. - "The Boys Are Back In Town" Composed by Phil Lynott. 

When Irish band Thin Lizzy hit the charts in the 1970's with enigmatic front man Phil Lynott their star soared up the charts and their songs were on everybody's lips. Here Laura Tate totally re-imagines one of those rock anthems composed by Phil Lynott himself into a sophisticated supper club performance oozing in style and panache. With stunning backing vocals from Teresa James, Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris one can imagine them on a band stand in evening attire singing to the uptown set. With such a big bold sumptuous sound the orchestration needs to reflect imagery that transcends time and space.  Here the orchestration does just that and is emboldened with a definite brashness about it. The brass ensemble of saxophonist Joe Sublett, trumpeter Darrell Leonard and trumpeter Darrell Leonard deliver a tour de force of a performance that absolutely glitters with it's intensity and style. Jeff Paris features very prominently on piano and his playing is sublime as he weaves a magical web throughout the song with a beautiful slow intro leading into a swinging beat that really grooves. Guitarist Doug Hamblin sits in on a stunning riff that is sophisticated but also understated. The rhythm section of drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson are in their element here and have the club swinging with this impeccable infectious rhythm. What a absolutely wonderful scintillating take on a song that was a mainstay on the radio in 1976. 

Track 4. - "I Need A Man" Composed by Rick Deitrick. 

Straight out of the classic stylings of the greatest R&B singers of the 1950's here Laura Tate channels all of her singing hero's into this sensual Blues. Now this is a singing performance of a consummate self assured singer who certainly knows just how to sing the Blues. In order to reach such dizzying heights of perfection Laura Tate needed just the right band for support and here you have exactly that and one that instantly gets into this brilliant groove effortlessly. As a listener l have to constantly remind myself that this is indeed a live recording and not a studio offering such is the quality it posses.  The orchestration has a refined sophistication with the most amazing of charts that just take your breath away. The powerful performance of the band belies the number of players as the sound is very full and robust. Jeff Paris stuns throughout on piano and this cat certainly knows his way around the keyboard with breath-taking runs that just leave you speechless. The brass is big and bold with a stunning trumpet solo from Darrell Leonard who is ably assisted by fellow brass section alumni saxophonist Joe Sublett and trombonist Lee Thornburg who combine to provide sheer magic on this one. Doug Hamblin's guitar is subtle but also sublime as he eloquently plays stunning runs throughout the mix. The rhythm section are completely on song with a display that is both passionate and has a firmness about it courtesy of drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson. To put it simply this heartbreaker is a stunner of a track! 

Track 5. - "Hittin' On Nothing" Composed by Naomi Neville.

I instantly recognised this dancer as the Minit Label release from 1963 by the legendry singer herself Irma Thomas and was intrigued as to how Laura Tate and her band would approach such a seminal song. Needless to say she nailed it just as you would expect from such a talented performer. Her vocals have a bit of sass in them as well as a bite also that displays some strength of her character shining through. The R&B feel is very strong here and the instrumentation emphasises just that what with the buoyant bounce to the sound. From wonderful hard hitting brass from saxophonist Joe Sublett, trombonist Lee Thornburg and trumpeter Darrell Leonard the groove never lets up as they assail your senses with their big sound. The rhythm section of drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson is particularly boisterous on this one and this gives them the drive to propel the song along at such a catchy tempo. Doug Hamblin on guitar is in his element here and lays down some stunning ripping runs that lead into a gorgeous solo all the while riffing with a sublime style. Pianist Jeff Paris hits the 88's with a tenacity that sends this one into the stratosphere and from start to finish doesn't let up. To round out the sound we have the wonderful backing singing from Terry Wilson, Teresa James and Jeff Paris who just shine with their contribution here. Wow what a track.  

Track 6. - "Can't Say No" - Composed by Terry Wilson, David Raven and William Watts. 

Stunning salsa inspired offering this one certainly changes direction and allows Laura Tate to display her vocal feminine charms that are very alluring. That salsa beat just grabs hold of you and the band expertly take you into their world and what a musical experience it becomes. The charts are breathy and allow for an impromptu feel to the song which is very alluring. Joining Laura Tate on vocals we have backing vocals from the incomparable Teresa James, Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris whose combined contribution to this glorious vocal bed can't be underestimated. Tony Braunagel shines on drums and percussion as he establishes that salsa beat along with fellow rhythms section alumni bassist Terry Wilson. Jeff Paris once again displays his immense talents on piano and throughout plays some of the most seductive of runs throughout. Guitarist Doug Hamblin is sublime on this one what with his mesmerizing riffs and stunning solo that permeates throughout the mix effortlessly. The brass section as one would expect, saxophonist Joe Sublett, trumpeter Darrell Leonard  and trombonist Lee Thornburg, have this salsa beat so in their collective grasp as they expertly weave a joyful groove throughout. Fantastic track and one that just sounds better the more you hear it.

Track 7. - "Still Got The Blues" Composed by Mel Harker and Doug MacLeod. 

Here Laura Tate goes slow smooth and easy with a stunning Blues ballad that was composed by New York born legend Doug MacLeod and Culver City's Mel Harker. Here Tate takes us into her world of just what she feels when singing and where she goes to when doing so, a stunning performance. The orchestration has a lushness to it and and a softness that belies the impact of the song. Guitarist Doug Hamblin is intense in his delivery with his solo sublimely elegant but restrained as he absolutely shines. Jeff Paris plays the most sophisticated of piano here and his touch and placement is a joy to hear. The brass is outstanding but the control of saxophonist Joe Sublett, trombonist Lee Thornburg and trumpeter Darrell Leonard is only something that true maestros are able to produce and excel at. Drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson produce this dreamiest of cadences and they skilfully keep it there from start to finish in what is a most endearing of songs and performances one will hear. 

Track 8. - "Nobody Gets Hurt" Composed by Stephen Bruton, Al Anderson and Sharon Vaughn. 

Swampy Blues that has an intensity about it and a country feel to the orchestration also. Laura Tate's vocals are in a lower register and as such have a noticeable intensity about them that certainly adds to the mood of the song. Backing vocals from Teresa James, Terry Wilson and Jeff Parris add to the intensity of Tate's vocals perfectly as well as adding to the depth of the song. Drummer Tony Braunagel is particularly masculine in his approach here with very promin ate playing that certainly gives the song a distinctive tonality. Joining Braunagel in the rhythm section is bassist Terry Wilson who combined produce this languished cadence that is quite mesmerizing.  Doug Hamblin's guitar is withering in tone as he lays down exquisite runs and a searing solo that adds to the incredible intensity of the song. Jeff Paris is here once again on piano and his performance is much more subtle than previous tracks but this doesn't diminish his overall impact on the overall sound. An interesting track that is very moody and intense if not a little on the dark side of life. Great track though!

Track 9. - "What A Way To Go" Composed by Mel Harker and Pat Schunk. 

Displaying her love of Culver City's legendry composer performer Mel Harker Laura Tate changes the whole inflection of this one into an old carnival style of song with the most infectious of cadences. She has morphed into a carnival spruiker regaling the listener about her trials and tribulations of life with the man who is the centre of her affections. Joining Laura Tate on these wonderfully jaunty vocals we have backing singers Teresa James, Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris who add to the playfulness of the vocals. The orchestration also has a real jaunty twenties feel about it and this just so engaging so as to put a real smile on your face regardless the subject matter of the lyrics. Jeff Paris is in his element on the 88's bounding up and down the keyboards with an unfettered abandon that is incredibly infectious. Guitarist Doug Hamblin riffs along with a sting in his tone placing stunning runs into the mix with sublime dexterity, plus his solo is absolutely exquisite. The rhythm section of drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson set this joyful musical journey in motion and from start to finish the carnival is in full swing. 

Track 10. - "Cowboy Jazz" Composed by Mel Harker and Paul Marshall. 

Another of Mel Harker's composition the achingly beautiful Cowboy Jazz Laura Tate takes the song to a whole new place and what a place it is what with a sophisticated Bluesy Western Swing style. The two styles are two one doesn't normally associate as to going together but here Tate displays just why she is the consummate performer able to mould music like plasticine into what she wants and surprise even the most sceptical of listeners. From her authentic drawl in her voice to her delightful yodel  this is one gorgeous performance by a true singers singer. One just can't help but feel so good for hearing this reading of the song whether you are a Blues fan, a Country fan or a Western Swing fan for that matter as it skilfully weaves all of the styles together into this great big gumbo of goodness. Delightful restrained brass from saxophonist Joe Sublett, trombonist Lee Thornburg and trumpeter Darrell Leonard weave a trail of brass hoof prints throughout the song and their presence in the song is a stroke of genius. Doug Hamblin on guitar is beautifully modulated throughout the mix and has the most exquisite of tones, again a masterful performance. Jeff Paris ambles throughout the mix on piano and the results are simply stunning as he frames the story with a virtuoso aplomb. Rhythm section alumni drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson set up this delicious laconic tempo and they hypnotise you all the while as the song travels on down the trail. Such a stunning piece of music. 

Track 11. - "Big Top Hat" - "If That Ain't Love" Composed by Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris. 

Drawing on band members bassist Terry Wilson and Pianist Jeff Paris for this composition Laura Tate certainly has a rockin' Texas Boogie that is certainly suitable for dancin'. This would be a big hit on every dancefloor in any Texas Roadhouse on any night of the week as Tate and the band kick up the dust from the floor as the beer flows. Rollicking vocals from Tate set this one up and their is a real excitement in her delivery. Jeff Paris is in his element as he bounces the 88's all over the stage as the dancers get up and hit the floor to dance up a storm. The raucousness is contagious and Joe Sublett on saxophone, Lee Thornburg on trombone and Darrell Leonard on trumpet get into the wildness and the party starts to move to the grove. Doug Hamblin not one to be left out unleashes some brilliance on guitar as he rattles off withering riffs and a blistering solo for good measure. To keep this big in your face tempo going at full tilt you need the best of the best for your rhythm section and that is exactly what you have here in drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson who have this one moving along like a Southern Pacific train moving on down the line. Hey how about another beer and a dance before they call time?

Track 12. - "If That Ain't Love" Composed by Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris. 

Sweet, sweet Soul music in all of it's glory is mighty fine when you have a singer of the calibre of Laura Tate singing. Another Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris composition that is stunning to say the least perfectly suited to the incomparable singing talents of Laura Tate. A wonderfully structured song that has the most perfect of charts that showcase the whole band in all of it's virtuosity. Adding to Laura Tate's exquisite vocals we have equally exquisite backing vocals from Teresa James, Jeff Paris and Terry Wilson who put the Soul into the Soulfulness. In keeping with the style you need a big helping of emboldened brass and here we have just that with the superb saxophonist Joe Sublett, trombonist Lee Thornburg and trumpeter Darrell Leonard who are totally immersed into the liquid honey feel and tempo. Jeff Paris has the piano sitting scrumptiously in the pocket with this one and his sound and placement is perfectly balanced with the most perfect of  out comes. Doug Hamblin plays with a sophisticated style that is all bout substance rather than trying to being flashy and his contribution cannot be denied as is evident by his stunning solo. The rhythm section maestros drummer Tony Braunagel and bassist Terry Wilson expertly and  deftly produce this mesmerizing tempo that just grabs at your heart. What a stunning performance but what a stunning composition also!

Okay, okay this is supposed to be a live album Ms. Laura Tate but you're not fooling me, l know you added the crowd noises afterwards. Yeah l know l'm being silly but what l was tying to emphasise straight away was that for a live album this is easily one of the best quality recordings l have ever had the pleasure of hearing, it is simply sensational at the least and mind blowing at best. Laura l must commend you and Terry Wilson on your production of the album as it is faultless and you perfectly captured the true essence of the night's performance.  Vocally on the night Laura you were a dynamo of sheer brilliance displaying incredible control but also so much light and shade in your vocals that perfectly conveyed the imagery of each and every song. I Particularly like the range of styles within the tracks what with singing Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" to singing Americana styled songs from your hero Mel Harker. I think that it is this range of musical styles and influences on your style that reflects so well here making for a must hear and own album. This is certainly an album that you keep wanting to listen to over and over again. Albums of this grandeur don't just happen and you need a band that can meet your dizzying heights of expectations and here it is more than evident you have assembled the very best. We must acknowledge guitarist Doug Hamblin, drummer Tony Braunagel, bassist Terry Wilson, pianist Jeff Paris, trumpeter Darrell Leonard, saxophonist Joe Sublett, trombonist Lee Thornburg. Then we have the exquisite backing singing from Teresa James plus band members Terry Wilson and Jeff Paris who combined were a formidable trio of talented singers in their own rights. Throughout the album the compositions shined brightly and were composed by some very talented writers in their own rights in Mel Harker, Pat Schunk, Teresa James, Terry Wilson, Phil Lynott, Rick Deitrick, Naomi Neville, Jeff Paris, David Raven, William Watts, Doug MacLeod, Stephen Bruton, Al Anderson, Sharon Vaughn and Paul Marshall. All in all very talented composers as displayed on each and every song on "Live From El Paso". There is not a single thing about this album that you could say was not of a standard that is unquestionably the finest but add to that that it is a live album then it rises expedientially in  my appreciation of it. This is an album that you cannot but fall in love with and instantly fall in love with Laura Tate, for those who know her music would be smiling and saying "what took you so long to catch up and listen to this singing genius". You know something, they're right but hey it's not too late to do so now you know what you have been missing out on. This will cart and it will feature in people's lists of their album's of the year, one listen and it will be on yours also.