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Blues - Released January 12, 2018 | Alligator

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Blues - Released January 14, 2015 | Alligator Records

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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

A powerful blues guitarist and an excellent vocalist, Tinsley Ellis dominates his fourth Alligator CD as a leader. His backup band (guitarist Oliver Wood, bassist James Ferguson, drummer Stuart Gibson and occasional organist/pianist Stuart Grimes) does a fine job of inspiring the leader, while slide guitarist Derek Trucks and Albey Scholl on harmonica make notable guest appearances. While Ellis often plays quite passionately and hints at rock, he also performs an occasional quieter piece that shows his more traditional and introspective side. There is plenty of spirit on this generally rousing set. ~ Scott Yanow
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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

Tinsley Ellis has some great studio albums in his catalog, but like several blues guitarists, you have to see him live or at least hear him live to experience what the fuss is about. And the guitarist, backed by a strong supporting cast, delivers an exceptionally pleasing and well-rounded set on Live! Highwayman. Beginning with the standard brand of Texas or Austin blues, the musician opens with the mid-tempo "To the Devil for a Dime," which comes off as a blend of Stevie Ray Vaughan and a grittier, rowdier Robert Cray. Cray is also heard somewhat on the heartache soul of "The Last Song," which travels into epic Floyd-ian bombast near the conclusion. Setting the groove early, Ellis has an equally blues soul and voice that suits his fabulous playing to a T. From there he ventures down a slightly less edgy, more swinging vibe on the bouncy, sway-inducing title track the way B.B. King would've performed it in his prime. It's also on this number where you get to see the guitar chops of Ellis front and center. Even the slower, downbeat tunes are strong, especially the deliberately building "A Quitter Never Wins," which brings to mind Cray and Buddy Guy. About halfway through the song he displays his style before asking if any blues fans are in attendance. The second half of the number is more of a rock-blues style à la David Gilmour but just as solid. The first track that seems to be almost run of the mill is the mid-tempo and keyboard-tinted "Real Bad Way" although Ellis manages to play off it well two-thirds of the way in. One of the first sleeper picks is "Hell or High Water," which has the band picking up steam thanks to the Evil One's rapid-fire bass line and Ellis upping the ante. And this flows nicely into the up-tempo, high-energy "The Next Miss Wrong," which could be described by some as Waylon Jennings nailing an old blues tune. Just makes you start to boogie wherever you may be. The crowning moment might be the terrific rendition of "Pawnbroker," a ten-minute tune that reeks of blues-rock that groups like Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason dream of. Above all, Ellis has the blues coursing through his bloodstream, especially on the tired-of-appeasing tone on "The Axe." "Double Eyed Whammy" resembles a blues tune funneled through Motown, but on the whole Ellis shows why he is the best, if not the most underrated, axeman in the blues business. ~ Jason MacNeil
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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

With each successive album, Tinsley Ellis has moved further and further away from mainstream blues grooves and closer and closer to hard rock. While his guitar playing is as explosive as ever, it also remains unfocused, the end result being soloing that never reaches a musical climax, but is nonetheless played with an unrelenting energy that music fans who like their blues with rock muscles will appreciate. Tracks like "Diggin' My Own Grave," "One Sunny Day," "Soulful," "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," and "I Walk Alone" sound like they could be on anybody's blues-rock or roots rock album, and even legendary producer Tom Dowd can't do much with Ellis' consistently flat and generally lifeless vocals. Only the slow blues "Are You Sorry?," the soul ballad "Change Your Mind," the Buddy Guy/Junior Wells-inspired "Break My Rule," and the laid-back set closer, "Everyday," reach for higher musical goals than the mundane. Someone special to look and listen for on this album is former Booker T. & the MG's bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. Duck appears on seven of the 12 songs, contributing simple, unobtrusive lines that speak in their own quiet way and underpin the tracks with a groove that's beyond rock-solid. This is a well played, well produced -- if unexceptional -- set of modern blues-rock, and fans of the genre will find much here to celebrate. ~ Cub Koda
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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

Like most of Tinsley Ellis' albums, Georgia Blue is filled with hot, blistering guitar, mediocre songs and flat vocals. For fans of blues guitar, there's plenty to hear on the album -- the licks and solos burn with a wild, uncontrolled fury. Others might find the album a little tedious, but not without virtue. ~ Thom Owens
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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

Blues rocker Tinsley Ellis knows where his bread is buttered and bakes up a loaf of it on his first album of original material since 2004's The Hard Way. Best known for fiery shows as evidenced by 2006's terrific Live! Highwayman, Ellis' explosive combination of R&B, blues and rock clicks on this rugged set. He roars through the riff-driven "Somebody" and the double entendres of "Bringin' Home the Bacon" like the pro he is, whipping off muscular solos that never overstay their welcome. "Get to the Bottom" and "Too Much of Everything" tackle the unfortunate results of living life in the fast lane, something he likely knows plenty about after spending a few decades on tour. Ellis works in a Stones styled mid-tempo rocker on "Tell the Truth" (not the Derek & the Dominos song), a tightly written gem aided immensely by fellow Atlanta musician Michelle Malone on backing vocals. The guitarist obviously loves his wah-wah pedal, which brings a Cream-like psychedelic swamp edge to tracks such as "Too Much of Everything." The slow, sensual groove of "Freeway Soul" is yet another song about a broken relationship and being on the road, topics Ellis seems to understand first hand. Unlike many in his genre, these sturdy songs are more than just frameworks to hang his solos on. A rollicking version of Sam & Dave's "I Take What I Want," one of only two non-originals on the album, makes the soul connection even more palpable. The guitar work is typically terrific throughout as Ellis' tone shifts from fluid to frenzied depending on the track. The closing solo acoustic "Stare at the Sun" is the only unplugged performance and a tidy coda for another in a series of successful albums from this earthy and dedicated, roots rocking blues journeyman. ~ Hal Horowitz
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Blues - Released January 1, 2002 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

Fanning the Flames is an erratic but impressive set from Tinsley Ellis. While his basic sound is indebted to Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitarist borrows from every other major blues artist. Furthermore, he has a tendency to overplay his licks, giving the album a feeling of unfocused fury. That sound can be overwhelming, though; his technique is impressive, even if he doesn't know when to reign it in. As a consequence, Fanning the Flames may not be of interest to general listeners, but for guitar fans, there's plenty of music here to treasure. ~ Thom Owens

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