Army Blues – Scream Machine

*Click an image to enlarge it.

Published In 1985

This is an interesting album and a first for the site!  Here, we have the continuation of Mark Taylor’s involvement.  He penned four of the album’s eight songs.  We also get a lovely reading (courtesy Monte Wisbrock) on Mark Taylor’s arrangement of the Carl Fischer classic, “You’ve Changed.”  We also get a fun take on Chuck Sayre’s arrangement of Lionel Hampton’s “Flyin’ Home.”  Lastly, we have the writing debut of Michael Tomaro – here on two tunes:  “Woikin’ It” and “Fancy That.”  In the original sheet that went to the pressing plant, Tomaro had intended to dedicate “Fancy That” to Dr. John Wilson.  Somehow, that dedication byline didn’t make it to the back of the jacket.  While this album is a bit less accessible than those that preceded it, the playing is first-rate as always and the tunes grow on you the more you listen to them.  The title track has always been a favorite.  They used to play it live constantly and that is no easy trick.  Dave Detwiler, the trumpeter, should get a medal for the fantastic solo.  This tune never failed to excite the crowd.  At one point, there was a recording of a high school band taking a crack at the tune on YouTube and it was pretty terrible.

This is also the first album that the Blues commissioned an actual illustrator for.  As you can see, the jacket is unusually striking (Kris Bonomi is the illustrator here), so much so that most now refer to the album as “Mac-Hine” instead of it’s actual title.  Yet another oddity is the photograph of Jacques Johnson on the back cover of the album.  Mr. Johnson has had a mustache for the whole of his life (now, a goatee) and hasn’t been clean-shaven since he was a child.  Someone decided that it would look better if Jacques’ mustache weren’t there so it was removed from the photograph used on the back.  I remember first seeing it as a teenager.  It gave me a good chuckle.

Audio note:  This album, like the others, was taken from the EQ masters that were sent to the pressing plant to make the LP’s.  The tapes still sound amazing so very little had to be done.  Very easy to work with and very easy to turn out a finished product.  (Ed)