Credit them or blame them, but in Roomful of Blues was one of - if not THE - first of the wave of "retro" bands. Blame not RoB for the sharkskin trendoids and poseurs that came in their wake (though it’s prob’ly safe to say the retro-swing/lounge thing is by now pretty much over - besides, RoB goes back to the late 60s), but when this album was released in 1977 on Island Records there really wasn’t anybody else (on a major label, anyway) doing what they did. RoB didn’t stick with the typical electric 12-bar/my BABY done lef’ me shtick, but rather mixed various styles of blues then out of vogue: Kansas City/Joe Turner, Ray Charles/Charles Brown, Texas, Gulf Coast and jump blues styles, adding to it a healthy dose of hard swing a la Count Basie and Illinois Jacquet. Unlike the retro mob, this lot didn’t have to pretend they just came out of a rend in the fabric of Space ‘n’ Time, and so concentrated on their formidable chops: Duke Robillard’s mellow ‘n’ genially soulful croon and sparkling, jazz-tinged guitar, Al Copley’s cool-cat piano (shades of both Otis Spann and Nat Cole) and the rollicking, chocolate mousse-rich horns. Eschewing hollow flash and forced rowdiness, Roomful of Blues’ 1st Album is a classy debut for an organization that’s still on the road today.