Mike Morgan and the Crawl – Full Moon over Dallas (1992)

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NICK DERISO: The Crawl, led by the memorable eyepatch-wearing lead picker Mike Morgan, improved on an already pleasant mix of precise playing and white-boy bark with this one.

Singer-harmonica player Lee McBee, who wrote or co-wrote three songs, had by then found a simpler way of getting a song over: Tried-and-true emotion, sure, but with a tempered restraint on the harp — and a more intimate handling of the microphone. That’s best showcased here on “Gypsy Lover” and “Come Back Home” — songs that have more than a whiff of McBee’s obvious early-1960s soul-man influences like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.

Drummer Marc Wilson and bassist Rhandy Simmons (both of whom played with fellow Dallas blueser Anson Funderburgh) are steady and unobstrusive.

If “Full Moon over Dallas” is perhaps still a bit too polished, you can’t argue with its attitude, which is listenable and fun. I liked that this record was more goose-bump shuffle and rocker rev-up than lawd-have-mercy slow blues, since that felt more genuine.

For one, it seemed to suit Morgan’s reserved playing just fine. He was at once the heart of the band and a supportive team player — standing a little behind in some parts of the mix, then stepping forward with a backscratcher solo.

The interesting part, then, was that Morgan (no old timer) was actually on the verge of short-lived retirement. Counted among his influences, Morgan once told me, were relative youngsters like Anson, and Stevie Ray. The Crawl had only been together about six years, at this point.

Then, just like that, Morgan announced he was leaving the road, not long after “Full Moon over Dallas” came out. (He said he was staying on as the Crawl’s booking agent; James Gaetano, then a 24-year-old from El Paso, took Morgan’s place on the next tour.)

But the haitus didn’t last long. In fact, by 1994 Morgan had issued “Let The Dogs Run,” a celebrated pairing with fellow Dallas guitarist Jim Suhler. He and McBee returned to the studio and the road, in a relationship that lasted until 1999. Morgan then recorded, in 2000, his first song on vocals. “Live In Dallas,” from 2004, was also well received.

Morgan’s motto remained the same: “Classic blues with a modern spin.” “Full Moon Over Dallas” is, to my ear, one of his better efforts at that.

Purchase: Mike Morgan – Full Moon over Dallas

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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