Big Joe's Protege Returns Earl Gaines

Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Black Top)

Earl Gaines

By Jeff Kallman

Unlike Roscoe Shelton, Earl Gaines got a more direct schooling from legendary Kansas City blues shouter Big Joe Turner - Turner actually took Gaines in hand and mentored him after he left Louis Brooks and the Hi-Toppers, following what proved to be Gaines' best-selling record (the 1955 R&B chartbuster, It's Love Baby). After another two decades of journeyman R&B work and a long season to follow driving a tractor-trailer, Gaines, like Shelton, came to Fred James's attention.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright is the first product of that union. It has something of the same sound (and the same players, mostly) as Shelton's set, but Gaines has a slightly more thrusting style and sounds as though he is prodding his voice and material a little more physically. This is not a terrible thing; it makes for some very endearing performances, and overall Gaines appears a seasoned and wizened veteran. Give it a try - there's nothing bad here.