Available on digital platforms Spotify, Amazon Apple etc and on CD, with a promotional single That’s All I Need/Much To Much .
Released 1st October 2023, Sveltosound Label, Helsinki, Finland. Recorded and Mixed by Tomi Leino Mastered by Enno Maemets All photos by Juha Seila Cover Design by Mika Lukari/StriKing Reviewed by Terry Mead 12/11/2023. Second Chance this brand-new album from Fat Chance a 1940/50s style R& B/Swing Jazz band from Helsinki, Finland.
The band consist of: Merikukka Kiviharju-Vocals Gona Lehtinen-Guitar Hessu Pirhonen-Piano Jan Smedberg-Bass Artsi Taskinen-Drums The album was mostly recorded live and analogue by Tomi Leino at his Suprovox Recording Studios. The publication has stretched further than originally expected, it contains eleven well produced covers and one self-penned track by pianist Hessu Pirhonen.
Let’s review track by track : Better Beware – So, off we go to kick us off with a cover of Little Esther’s 1952 song written by Johnny Otis & Rick Darnell. It’s certainly a worthy take on the original with an air about it. Some smooth guitar work and neat piano playing complete the production.
As Long As I’m Moving- The Ruth Brown classic produced here in a more jazz version rather than the original R&B sound but still doesn’t detract in any way to making it a fine tune.
I’m Shakin’ – Onto a version of Little Willie John’s song, it has kept to the bluesy hollow sound that made this song so unique to the R&B sound of the by gone era and Merikukka Kiviharju’s voice has all the traits to perform it.
I Wanna Do More- The second Ruth Brown cover written by Leiber & Stoller .Lovely guitar intro leads us into Fat Chance’s version which again is a worthy track to liven up any dance floor.
That’s All I Need – From the pen of pianist Hessu Pirhonen comes this lively track and yes you guessed it there is some mighty fine piano playing from the man himself on it. It’s another floor filler with pace.
Market Place – Etta James 1957 release, my this is a great version has so much original characteristic feelings to it with timings and sound and of course Merikukka on vocals nails it.
Work Song – An extended intro to this Osar Brown Jr’s & Nat Adderley tune, an easy listening number with a deep soul base telling the story of the chain gang and how they try and cope with work. Has a nice beat which makes it quite relaxing, and you could easy drift away listening to it.
Much Too Much- Bettye Smith tune from the vaults, dusted off and brought back to life again by Fat Chance . It’s another carefree number with a bluesy/jazzy feel.
Ain’t No Need – No there isn’t to this Honey Brown track which has been put together with the original context in mind. It’s always been a popular dance tune and if Fat Chance play this cover live, I’m sure it will continue to be. Some nice guitar breaks, and soft drumbeats push it along.
Teardrops From My Eyes – Ruth Brown’s big Atlantic hit and released by her as a 45rpm single in 1950. Louis Prima also did an early version. Although more of a jazz version from Fat Chance rather than the original orchestral backing for Ruth Brown and slightly more upbeat this is still a nice little number from the band.
Undecided – Is a jazz standard written by Sid Rubin and Charlie Shavers in 1938.The most famous interpretation is from Ella Fitzgerald . This is a lovely laid-back version with some neat instrumental breaks making it a very relaxed vibe to it.
Caravan- Another jazz standard written by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington in 1936 with lyrics from Irwing Miles. This rounds off the album with the stupendous voice of Merikukka Kiviharju reflecting though, love that prolonged guitar break midway through to. Yes, a brought back to life version with modern traits but without doubt a fine production.
So, let’s summarise here: some fine tunes well produced and thought through with those originals in mind .Fat Chance are a well-polished outfit that have given a new least of life to some of those bygone artists as well as throwing in a self-penned number which I feel with be the way the group will go with their jazz/R&B style.
Recommendation-Certainly if you’re a bluesy/Jazz/R&B purest fan or keen to listen to some quality tracks.
YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOtyt6cDLuw...
Band Bio ( in their own script) Fat Chance is a self-proclaimed Rhythm & Blues band from the Helsinki metropolitan area, born in late 2013. The original idea of West Coast / Jump-Blues began to naturally evolve in the direction of the swinging, entertaining and, above all, danceable R&B of the 40-50s when vocalist Ria joined the thunderstorm to beautify in the spring of 2014. At the end of 2019, Merikukka Kiviharju changed to the singer and brought more jazz influences to the tried and tested line, but also a strong interpretation of Rhythm &; Blues. The band members have more than a hundred years of experience in the field of roots music! Drummer Taskinen started his career in Boppin' Pete's bands already at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. Along the way, he has been active in several bands of Boppin' Pete and, for example, in Tomi Leino's band, and even now takes care of beating the beat of Boogie Machine in addition to Fat Chance.
Lehtinen and Smedberg also started working in the field in the early 80s. Their first major band was The Horny Four / The Diving Ducks with Hara Saanio. Over the years, both have done a lot of things. Smedberg in Boppin' Pete &; Big Bang and the late Mike Westhues' band, and Lehtinen perhaps most prominently with his favourite child, the duo Berryman &; Bullet, who specialize in ragtime and Piedmont blues. In addition to Fat Chance, the two men also play together in The Sun Connection, which both co-founded over a decade ago, but from which Smedberg was sometimes absent for a long time.
A long-time root musician and multi-tasker in the field is also Mr. Pirhonen. Goofy's piano also enlivens the ensembles of The Hogs of Rhythm and The Toreadors. He is also familiar from DJ work and "Susi" Pirhonen is remembered / known by many as a radio voice already for five decades. And here are just some of the activities related to the root’s music of this perpetual motion machine! His other activities would also have ingredients for a book! And of course, he has published one... As the frontman of Fat Chance, a strong interpretation is provided by Merikukka Kiviharju, who replaced the original vocalist Ria Korhola in late 2019. Merikukka is an experienced Tampere-based musician and singer currently based in Helsinki, who has become known especially as a jazz singer. She has been and is involved in many things, working e.g., in her own Merikukka Quartet with real top musicians. The traditional Rhythm &; Blues, which exudes female energy from the 40's and 60's, also comes naturally from Merikukka and the cooperation with Fat Chance has worked well from the beginning. The band is really lucky and proud to have such talent in their ranks!