Buzz Thompson’s debut CD, Find Out For Yourself! Buzz Thompson Live .... At The Red Dog is a beautiful, soulful, musical creation throughout its entire 64 minutes. The title tune on this soul-inspiring CD "Find Out For Yourself" is filled with deep, romantic feelings as only Canada’s Buzz ‘Mr. Soul’ Thompson can deliver. Buzz was lead/slide guitarist for Ronnie Hawkins, and was a loyal and devoted Hawk (in The Hawks) for the 15 years and for the past few years appearing as special guest at all Hawkins’ concerts. Buzz puts all the raw, beautiful energy that ‘is’ soul, into this heartfelt tune.
This writer has fond memories of Buzz performing it at the Ronnie Hawkins Tribute Concert at Toronto’s revered music venue Massey Hall October 4th, 2002 with accompaniment on guitar by the one and only Domenic Troiano, along with The Band’s Levon Helm on drums. The same live feel of that very special evening is reproduced here on the CD Find Out For Yourself’. Although it was recorded on December 20th, 1995 live in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada at The Legendary Red Dog, (a very lively place), it’s only now being officially released worldwide through the internet at http://www.buzzthompson.ca
The sound on ‘Find Out .... ’ is consistently clear, live and energetic throughout. This is true in part to the excellent acoustics at The Red Dog. Buzz provides uplifting lead vocals throughout this soul-inspiring CD. He also plays some of the most ingenious leads and rousing rhythm and slide guitar this side of Nashville or Memphis. George Bertok provides the rousing keyboards sounds, along with JP Hovercraft’s incredibly funky bass playing and John Crown’s dynamic drumming expertise. This magical music mixture is done justice by the tasteful choice of tunes on ‘Find Out For Yourself’ and the order in which they’re played.
Sonny Boy Williamson ll’s classic "Help Me" opens this lively performance with JP’s heavy duty bass lines, Buzz’s screaming guitar leads and Bertok’s B-3 sounds. Buzz’s soul cries out, "If you don’t help me babe, I gotta find somebody else." Buzz’s slide guitar riffs on "Help Me" are truly outstanding! Crown’s drumming provides enough energy to ensure a packed dance floor wherever this Sonny Boy ll tune is performed. This soulful rendition, along with Buzz’s ‘primal scream’ at the end, ensures Thompson’s own unforgettable stamp on this all-time blues classic.
The pace picks up with Wilson Pickett’s rousing "Ninety Nine And A Half." Bertok’s melodic keys soloing is mouthwateringly welcome, as is Buzz’s soul-wrenching vocals rewarded by energetic applause from the audience.
The title tune "Find Out For Yourself" is a beautiful, romantic Buzz Thompson original. Buzz’s guitar solo on "Find Out .... " is deeply moving, and is added to by Bertok’s emotional piano solo (sounding much like rippling notes from an angel’s harp). At times, Buzz’s soloing on this tune, evokes images in this writer’s mind, of guitar great Carlos Santana playing leads in a canyon wilderness (images I’ve seen Santana show in his Live In Mexico City concert video/DVD). Buzz’s performance of "Find Out .... " is as heartwarming on this CD as it is every time I see Buzz and his band perform it live, always a highlight of any Buzz Thompson performance!
The enchanting musical flow continues with the Isley Brothers' classic "It’s Your Thing." Buzz’s soulful screams and rousing lead vocals are added to by Crown’s energetic drumming and Bertok’s incredibly rousing, imaginative keys sounds. The energy contained on this tune is unbelievable!!! JP’s ultra-funky bass solo is impeccable!
Otis Redding’s classic "Can’t Turn You Loose" is given some fresh musical insight, due to Buzz’s scorching lead guitar riffs that are so imaginative, they seem to ‘speak’ the vocals. Bertok’s B-3 sounds provide the appropriate blend, along with Crown’s hard-driving talent on the skins.
"Cut Me Up" is another Buzz Thompson original that conveys the charisma of a long-time soul classic. Buzz sings the blues-inspired lyrics with a heavy soul edge - combined with rousing piano riffs and high-powered drumming. JP’s laid-back bass solo is a pleasant, melodious surprise feature of this tune. You would swear "Cut Me Up" is an all-time soul classic -- but it’s a Buzz original -- and a true contemporary soul classic in its own time!
Buzz adds his own soulful touch to James Brown’s "Ain’t That A Groove" with "Oh What a Feeling" vocals and lyrics from Crowbar’s all-time hit, blending perfectly into this Brown classic. The pace slows down with Ray Charles’ soulful and bluesy "I Believe To My Soul". Buzz’s mesmerizing vocals are full of vitality and are added to by Bertok’s B-3 sounds and Crown’s melodic percussive technique. Bertok’s piano solo along with Buzz’s guitar soloing is refreshing to the auditory senses.
"Come On Up" gets things going the way a live recording should. Buzz’s vocals beckoning the Red Dog audience to "come on up .... have a good time" must have encouraged many in the audience that night up onto the dance floor. Bertok’s B-3 sounds on this tune are amazing to hear! Buzz’s scorching guitar riffs fit the mood perfectly. They’re extremely inviting as is Buzz’s soulful ‘scream’ and JP’s fast-paced bass finish.
"Barbie Lee" keeps the energetic pace going strong. Buzz’s vocals are outstanding, clear and resonant! Bertok’s incredibly rapid keys solo feels just right as does Crown’s ‘adrenalin rush’ on the skins. Buzz’s energetic version of "Mustang Sally" creates the impression that he’s the originator of this oft-played R&B classic. Buzz sings the vocals with soulful conviction backed by his groovin’ rhythm section. The audience echoes their approval of a song well done.
Buzz offers a special rendition of Ben E. King’s soft, romantic ballad "Stand By Me". Buzz’s vocals blend perfectly with his remarkably melodic guitar solo, as does Bertok’s instinctive tinkling on the ivories. A rousing James Brown medley caps off this awesome CD, with "Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag," "Get Up Offa That Thing" and "There Was a Time" performed with style and finesse. "Papa’s Got .... " features Bertok’s rousing B-3 sounds along with JP’s super-funky bass solo that pulls out all the stops! Buzz’s rousing vocals encourage us to "do it funky" -- "gettin’ (the whole band and audience) up offa that thang." Buzz’s ‘whistling’ of "Oh What a Feeling" rouses the emotions to the ‘nth’ degree, helped along by a continuation of JP’s funky bass lines and Bertok’s rousing keyboards, bringing to a conclusion this extremely enjoyable, highly entertaining CD.
Buzz sums up my feelings about this CD so well with these words ‘Find Out For Yourself’. It’s the best thing you could do, adding this soulfully inspired CD to your collection. Buzz’s originals, including the title tune, are without a doubt soul classics in their own time. I feel Buzz Thompson has justifiably earned the moniker ‘Mr. Soul.’ That’s who he is and what Find Out For Yourself! Buzz Thompson Live .... At The Red Dog is all about!