Red Hot...Live! DVD
Well you can't argue with the title of this new DVD from Britain's premier r&b practitioner - Mike Sanchez really is Red Hot Live (anyone who orders this thinking they've ordered something from the soft porn channel will only be disappointed for a few seconds!!). A regular on the circuit for the past twenty years, Sanchez is Little Richard and Wynonie Harris rolled into one. Although he has great stage craft and is a very visible performer, he also has the voice and piano skills to back it up. Make no mistake, he really is the business.

I first saw him in a village hall in Whitton, near my hometown, Presteigne, Powys in the late '80s and was totally blown away by him and his then current band, the Big Town Playboys. He'd formed the band in 1984 when Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant introduced him to guitarist Andy Silvester. He soon attracted some big name fans and opened for Eric Clapton at London's Royal Albert Hall. (In a perfect world Clapton would be opening for Mike on the Mike Sanchez Rhythm and Blues Revue World Tour). The band also got to back legends Lowell Fulson, Don & Dewey and Little Willie Littlefield among others and played support to blues giant John Lee Hooker at Manchester's Freed Trade Hall. In 1993 Jeff Beck used the band for his Cliff Gallup tribute album, 'Crazy Legs', during which Beck and Sanchez sounded uncannily like Gallup and Gene Vincent respectively.

Recent times have seen Mike leave the Playboys to work under his own name, with a crackerjack band that includes Silvester, bass player Al Gare, sax player Al Nicholls and drummer Mark Morgan. This is the core of the group we see on this splendid DVD. Released a couple of years ago on video, the new shiny version comes with an extra 30 minutes from the December 2002 Buttermarket gig in Shrewsbury which I was also lucky enough to be at.

The sound quality is excellent, as is the actual filming and editing. This is no simple do-it-yourself camera job, it's professionally done with multiple camera angles, that manage to capture the excitement that a Mike Sanchez show generates. Running at over two hours long, it features performances from the Burnley National Blues Festival, 100 Club in London, The George Hotel in Lower Brailes and the aforementioned Jazz and Roots Club, in the Buttermarket, Shrewsbury. For anyone who hasn't seen Mike Sanchez live, let me tell you, he's got the most authentic vintage rhythm and blues sound you're likely to hear without a time-machine. His voice and piano playing are pure 50's and his backing band are among the best there is. Given that his real given name is Jesus is should come as no surprise that he possesses God given talents.

Highlights abound, with particular favourites being Girls All Over The World, 3 Months, 3 Weeks, 3 Days, Red Hot Mama and his great cover of Jim Reeves' Blue Boy. Other staples of his live show include Fast Train, Sapphire, and I'm Mad. Shake Your Hips is a storming version that should get every rockabilly fanatic wearing out the replay button - hypnotic and simply brilliant. It's the type that's going down a storm on the rockabilly circuit courtesy of bands like Hot Boogie Chillen. Special mention should also go to Andy Silvester who plays the whammy out of Since You've Been Gone.

As well as Mike we also get some numbers from his fellow Revue stars, Imelda Clabby, the Extraordanaires and Paul Ansell. Based on the sort of thing Johnny Otis was doing in L.A., Sanchez plays the band leader who introduces and backs the other artists who stride on for a couple of numbers every half hour or so. He does a great duet with Imelda on Shirley & Lee's, Let The Good Times Roll and we get to see her again on the up-tempo, Till The Well Runs Dry. The Extraordanaires are featured with a couple of fast doo-woppers Rock 'n' Roll 'Em and Jump Children which allow them ample opportunity to perform their show-stopping dance routines. Paul Ansell is featured on just one number, the pleading I'll Go Crazy, a perfect encapsulation of this terrific singer.

The DVD is an absolute must for all lovers of 50's rhythm and blues or anyone who has ever seen Mike Sanchez live. It's a top-drawer item that would fit snuggly into any Christmas stocking. Copies can be purchased at his own

Mike Sanchez Review with Imelda and Extraordanaires.

Mike Sanchez Rhythm & Blues Review
Live at the Jazz and Roots Club, Shrewsbury

Whenever I've seen Mike Sanchez and band at this venue he's always been in the cellar bar, which has great atmosphere and sound, but is a bit too cramped for people to get a good view. No such worries tonight though, as we were in the main club area upstairs. With a dance area out front, and plenty of raised areas for good vantage points, the venue is perfect for the highly visual Mike Sanchez Rhythm & Blues Review. Serving as a launch for the new DVD, a healthy crowd of around 300 were treated to two hours of non-stop rhythm and blues from some of the best in the business.

In 1950's Los Angeles, the Johnny Otis Show was one of the hottest tickets in town with doo-wop groups and foxy chick singers sharing the spotlight with Otis and his first-rate band. The MS R&B Revue plays along the same lines, although even the die-hards would admit that Sanchez is a better singer than Johnny ever was. Come to that, I'd rather hear his piano than Otis' xylophone.

It seems to me that one of the principal components of the 50's shows ala Alan Freed was the fact that each performer only got to do a couple of numbers. This meant they hit the stage running and channelled all their energies into a couple of knock-out numbers, throwing down the gauntlet for the next act to "follow that". We've all heard the stories about how this competitive edge worked with Jerry Lee and Chuck or the Coasters and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. I was reminded of this tonight when the Extraordanaires bounced on in their eye-catching white zoot-suits and launched into Jump Children and Rock 'n' Roll 'Em. They danced up a storm and left the stage to tumultuous applause. It was a whirlwind five minutes and I actually wondered how Mike Sanchez would follow it. Fear not, this man is a legendary performer. A couple of pulls of the face and a rolling left hand later and he had the crowd back in his boogie mode, oblivious to anything that had gone before.

Red Hot Mama was brilliant, as was Sapphire and In The Middle Of The Night. The only song he did all night that I didn't like was Coalminer, where he takes a stroll around the venue. Following a short break he donned the guitar and excelled on Lou Josie's frantic rocker, Vacation's Over. Amazingly it's eight years since the Big Town Playboys bought out the great Hip Joint CD on Blue Horizon/Ace. There was plenty of dips into it during the night, with the likes of Girls All Over The World, Kiddio and Glamour Girl. Since You've Been Gone is always a great favourite and it allows Andy Silvester room to show his wares. I think he's one of the unsung heroes, he never tries to steal the show with flashy solos, he plays for the band not to the air guitarists in the crowd - more is less as they say.


I first saw Imelda Clabby at the Rhythm Riot a couple of years back when she performed with Nappy Brown. She sounded good then, but a few in the crowd were restless that night as they wanted to hear more from Nappy Brown than he gave. It wasn't her fault, but he was basically out of puff. I think her stage presence has improved considerably and now does justice to her fabulous voice. A torch singer with a hint of Ruth Brown and Etta James, she was the perfect foil for the high-dynamics of the Extraordanaires. Her duet with Sanchez on Let The Good Times Roll was first class and I really enjoyed Once More.

The finale saw the three headliners on stage together for a romp through Chuck Berry's Almost Grown, a glorious ending to a great nights entertainment. Mike Sanchez is big mates with the organiser so hopefully he should be back soon. Do yourself a favour and see him live, he's a breath of fresh air. For further details on the club and it's schedule, check out and for tour dates for Mike Sanchez check out

"Jeff Evans of Hillbilly Jethro, Julie, Shaun - Mike Sanchez Show, Dec 2003."

"R&B buff Tony Fry, Shaun and Shaun's wife Julie - Mike Sanchez Show, Dec 2003."

Shaun Mather
December 2003

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