If Marc Ford never contributed another note of music to the world, his indelible stamp as a vital component to the Black Crowes' sound and his invaluable assistance to a host of other artists as sideman and producer would distinguish him as one of rock's indispensible figures over the past quarter century. Thankfully, Ford is no laurel-resting slacker nor is he content to languish in the shadows while his more flamboyant band mates and employers grab the attention and accolades. Ford's latest project, the Neptune Blues Club, shows conclusively that the gifted guitarist belongs squarely in the spotlight at the front of the stage.
While Ford has released a quartet of pure solo albums over the past 15 years, some of his best work has come as namesake for Marc Ford & the Neptune Blues Club since their 200 debut. "The Vulture" shows amazing versatility; the Crazy Horse squall of "Devil's in the Details" and the title track, the righteous Paul Westerbergian indignation of "The Same Coming Up" and "This Ride," the Leon Russell-channeled contemplation of "All We Need to Do is Love" and the Memphis soul shiver of "Arkansas Gas Card," which winds around the listener's frontal lobe like Peter Green piercing the veil to jam with the late, great Bob Welch on a lost Fleetwood Mac song from the early '70s. There isn't a single moment on "The Vulture" that doesn't ring as clear as a crystal bell and as seasoned as a Kentucky bourbon barrel, and Marc Ford, as the ringmaster at the center of this roots rock circus, conducts his big tent orchestra with a scorching fervor.