Rolling Stone - 9/14/00, p.1803 stars out of 5
- "...ROYAL shows that this blues lioness still has her bite, and plenty of roar."
CMJ - 5/29/00, p.26
"...The pipes may be all of 65 years old, but the Queen of Chicago Blues can still rip it up like nobody else."
Down Beat - 9/00, p.644.5 stars out of 5
- "...A major production number, complete with guest stars and contemporary material....The interaction of B.B. King and Koko is classic stuff..."
JazzTimes - 11/00, p.68
"...[She] roars with a gale force....Taylor is in classic earth-shakin' form....A lot of versatility."
Personnel: Koko Taylor (vocals); B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Keb' Mo' (vocals, National steel guitar, harmonica); Criss Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd (guitar); Matthew Skoller (harmonica); Mark Colby (tenor saxophone); Johnnie Johnson, Ken Saydak (piano); Dolpha Fowler Jr. (organ); Kenny Hampton (bass); Kriss T. Johnson (drums).
The Tom Tom MMLXXXIV Horns includes: Jerry DiMuzio (alto saxophone); Willie Henderson (baritone saxophone); Larry Bowen (trumpet); Steve Berry (trombone).
Producers: Koko Taylor, Criss Johnson, Bruce Iglauer.
Principally recorded at Chicago Recording Co. and Streeterville Studios, Chicago, Illinois.
ROYAL BLUE was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
Personnel: Koko Taylor (vocals); B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Keb' Mo' (vocals, steel guitar, harmonica); Criss Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd (guitar); Matthew Skoller (harmonica); Jerry DiMuzio (alto saxophone); Mark Colby (tenor saxophone); Willie Henderson (baritone saxophone); Larry Bowen (trumpet); Steve Berry (trombone); Johnnie Johnson, Ken Saydak (piano); Kriss T. Johnson Jr. (drums).
Audio Mixers: "Rusty" Arbuthnot; Evan Hollander; David Axelbaum; Dylan Ely; Greg Norman; Tom Agnold.
Recording information: Chicago Recording Co., Chicago, IL; Chicago Trax, Chicago, IL; Electrical Audio, Chicago, IL; NRG Recording, N. Hollywood, CA; Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL.
Photographers: Chris Jacobs ; Paul Natkin.
For her first album in seven years, Koko Taylor returns with a flurry of gritty material and a roster of guest royalty befitting the Queen of the Blues. Kicking things off with the fiery "Save Your Breath," Taylor keeps the temperature high with swaggering originals like the stop-start "Don't Let Me Catch You (With Your Drawers Down)" and the gutbucket blues "Ernestine" (featuring Johnnie Johnson's supple piano playing). The most impressive self-penned number is "The Man Next Door," a duet with Keb' Mo' with a stripped-down arrangement featuring a reigned-in vocal turn by Taylor goosed along by Mo's twangy National Steel guitar and wailing harmonica.
Elsewhere, the Queen mixes it up with young hotshot Kenny Wayne Shepherd (a searing cover of Melissa Etheridge's "Bring Me Some Water") and meets up with regal counterpart B.B. King (the crackling "Blues Hotel"). Taylor also has fun leisurely tearing into Ray Charles's "But On The Other Hand" and maintaining her bawdy image with the no-nonsense "Keep Your Booty Out Of My Bed."