Personnel: Rick Derringer (vocals, guitar, bass instrument); Ron Reinhardt (keyboards); Dave Reinhardt (drums).
Recording information: Panda Productions, Clearwater, FL.
Rick Derringer tried a variety of different things in the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s. The singer/guitarist recorded his share of middle of the road pop/rock and adult contemporary albums, and he even recorded an instrumental jazz-pop/smooth jazz album that had George Benson-ish leanings (2002's Free Ride). But Derringer, who turned 61 in 2008, has a way of going back to blues-rock and hard rock -- which is exactly what he does on Knighted by the Blues. Granted, this 2009 release wasn't recorded with blues purists in mind; not everything on Knighted by the Blues adheres to the traditional 12-bar format. But the feeling of the blues is quite strong throughout this 51-minute CD; that feeling is as strong on Derringer's own songs as it is on enjoyable performances of Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was Nine" and Ray Charles' "Funny, I Still Love You." Knighted by the Blues is definitely one of Derringer's grittier, tougher, more ballsy efforts -- and given his history, it isn't surprising that he would return to this type of approach. Over the years, Derringer has fluctuated between very commercial recordings and recordings that were much edgier. It's no coincidence that even though Derringer is best known for "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo," he is also well known for the bubblegum pop/rock he played with the McCoys in the '60s. So taking his history into account, it really isn't surprising that Derringer would offer a jazz-pop/smooth jazz album in 2002 and come out with a blues-rock/hard rock album like Knighted by the Blues seven years later in 2009. Knighted by the Blues isn't among Derringer's essential releases, but it's certainly respectable and is well worth hearing if one fancies his edgier side. ~ Alex Henderson