New January Reviews

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New January Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:15 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jan-21-05 AT 01:37 PM (EST)]Hello again gang...

Here are some more reviews for folks to peruse. Some of these, although a few years old, just landed in the mail. These can all be purchased through or by clicking the link provided at the end of each review.

Live At Joe's
Pinto Blue Music (2001) PBM 1936 ... ZZZZZ_.jpg

12 tracks, 54 minutes. Excellent. Paying tribute to the classic Chicago blues sounds of the 1950s is at the heart of this five-piece Ohio outfit, and with Coleman fronting a setup of two guitars, bass and drums, they manage to get the job done in fine fashion. Coleman isn't a powerful vocalist but he is engaging while his harmonica skills are both confident and commanding. Covering Little Walter (Juke/One Chance With You/Tell Me Mama), Jimmy Rogers (You're The One/My Last Meal), and Muddy (Young Fashioned Ways/Lonesome Room Blues), as well as offering some solid originals (Hard Life/Big Dog Blues), The Wallace Coleman Band recaptures the distorted and creative harp-led blues sounds as well as anyone around.

Bad Weather Blues
Pinto Blue Music (2003) PBM 8534 ... ZZZZZ_.jpg

14 tracks, 75 minutes. Recommended. Bad Weather Blues kicks things up a few notches when compared to previous outings from The Wallace Coleman Band. While remaining on-course with their classic Chicago Blues approach, this mostly original effort shows more growth, confidence, and self-assurance. Covers are primarily limited to Little Walter's Everybody Needs Somebody, Robert Lockwood by way of Muddy on Mean Red Spider, and St. Louis Jimmy's Going Down Slow, although the crafty writing on the remainder of the set blends perfectly with the Windy City classics. Billy Flynn and Bob Stroger step in as guests and shine with the rest of the band. Highlights include the title track, a harp-shuffling Billy Bob Jam, the stop-time humor of High Tech Blues, and Coleman's Blue Mist, a Little Walter-like chromatic harp standout.

Mud Island Blues
High Water/HMG 6519

14 tracks, 57 minutes. Highly recommended. This previously unreleased treasure trove was produced by Dr. David Evans and sadly shelved for far too long due to financial constraints. Recorded between 1981 and 1983 (when the band was receiving critical acclaim for two 45s and an LP), it features varying vocals from Little Applewhite, Willie Roy Sanders, and Joe Hicks, ranging from workman-like to downright stunning. Crunching guitar work from Sanders and Clarence Nelson features throughout while Lois Brown (bass), Bobby Carnes (keyboards), and Hicks (drums) drive steadily between grinding shuffles and gritty slow blues. Mud Island Blues, Hand Me Down My Shotgun, Wrong Doin' Woman, Old Black Mattie, Cross Cut Saw, and nine more by this now-legendary band. A not-to-be-missed item with detailed liner notes and complete session information.

No Dark In America
Dualtone (2004) 01158 ... 542013.jpg

15 tracks, 60 minutes. Recommended. While the warmly-written liner notes offer a nice look at Rosco Gordon, the man, there's little included in the way of explanation as to when this was recorded (sometime between 1997 and his death in 2002), where it was recorded (8 studios and Rosco's home are listed without mention of dates), or what was over-dubbed. The plethora of musicians (17 in all) offer fine support, and Gordon himself is superb playing guitar on three cuts and solo piano on a few tracks, even the out-of-tune You Look Bad When You're Naked. As advanced as he was in age and with failing health in later years, he is distinctly powerful and creative in what turns out to be some of his last recordings. The title track and re-recorded version of That's What You Do To Me alone make it worthwhile. The music, smile, and humor of this unheralded genius are missed.

Don't Play Boogie
Castle (2003) 81277 ... ZZZZZ_.jpg

11 tracks, 50 minutes. Excellent. Although Bob Hall isn't a powerful vocalist, his piano skills remain unassailable and he's proven his mettle as a writer over four decades of recording. Top Topham offers his considerable adaptability on electric and acoustic guitar throughout, Paul Lamb hands in harp for three tracks, Dave Kelly's bottleneck graces a pair of cuts, and the rhythm section of Hilary Blythe and Dave Raeburn nail down the grooves. The fine reworking of Big Maceo's Chicago Breakdown drives effortlessly, Death Ray Boogie grooves mightily, and The Spider is a tough slice of easy-rolling blues. There's a taste of country (Don't Play Boogie) and Blythe takes the feature spot for Tricks Ain't Walking No More and Make Me A Pallet On The Floor. All in all, another strong addition to Bob Hall's already lengthy discography.

No Turn On Red
HighTone/HMG (2005) 1010

11 tracks, 48 minutes. Highly recommended. Iverson Minter, also known as Louisiana Red, Playboy Fuller, and Rocky Fuller remains strongly dedicated to his blues in a highly personal style and consistently recalls the influence of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and other stalwarts. Recorded between 1982 and 2003 backed by Bob Corritore's harp, solid guitar from Johnny Rapp and Buddy Reed, Chico Chism's driving backbeats and others, Red hands in another deep, and often heart-wrenching, set of gripping blues. Freight Train To Ride, You Got To Move, Rollin' Stone, Red's New Dream, Everybody Laughs At Me, Red's Hobo Blues, and plenty more. If you've never had the pleasure of introducing your senses to Louisiana Red, this is as fine a starting point as anything currently available.

Deluxe Edition
Alligator (2005) ALCD 5612 ... 544309.jpg

14 tracks, 62 minutes. Excellent. With a recording and performance itinerary dating back forty years, Charlie Musselwhite's name and reputation are ranked very highly, and while some contemporaries from his era have long been gone, he remains focused and stands as an elder statesman. Compiled from three titles in the Alligator catalog, as well as featuring two previously unissued tracks; Lotsa Poppa and a somewhat ragged-but-right Newport News Blues from Musselwhite's personal collection (with Will Shade), Memphis Charlie gets formidable support from the Blind Boys Of Alabama, Junior Watson, Larry Taylor, and Steven Hodges, among others. Mean Ole Frisco, Blues Got Me Again, Mama Long Legs, If I Should Have Bad Luck, When It Rains It Pours, plus nine more. Solid and enjoyable.

The Best Of Charlie Patton
Yazoo (2003) 2069 ... 498168.jpg

23 tracks, 72 minutes. Essential. As long as mastering technology continues to evolve, the often stunning and strongly captivating material from Charley (or Charlie) Patton's catalog will likely see reissue on a repeating basis, but discussions about what label offers the best sound will also likely continue. Yazoo has done a remarkable job on this twenty-three track set, perhaps setting a standard in noise reduction, clarity, and clean sonics that could prove difficult to match. Patton's music suffered for years because of the scarce availability of usable sources to dub from, and although prior sets (on Catfish, Revenant, and JSP) showed improvements, the dedication and diligent efforts of Richard Nevins appear to have now outstripped the competition. Down The Dirt Road Blues, Lord I'm Discouraged, Moon Going Down, High Sheriff Blues, I'm Goin' Home and the balance have never sounded so good.

Standing Room Only
Alligator (2005) ALCD 4900 ... 541801.jpg

14 tracks, 50 minutes. Very good. For those who recall Roomful Of Blues with Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Greg Piccolo, or Sugar Ray Norcia standing tall and commanding attention, for some, their glory days have become a thing of the past. There's little question that this 30-some-odd-year aggregation can still dish out some compelling music, but Chris Vachon's often rock-sounding guitar vocabulary can be irritating to a fault, and Mark DuFresne, although a solid and workman-like frontman, doesn't quite capture the magic as other vocalists before him have. Once a driving blues band with a foot firmly planted in vintage rock 'n' roll territory, of late they seem to more resemble rockers who delve into blues, and although they can still push the daylights out of swinging grooves, their grooves have less swing and often collide with hook-based rockers.

Memphis Blues Band & Singers - The 1980s
High Water/HMG (2005) 6520

13 tracks, 52 minutes. Highly recommended. Much like a coinciding review of the new/old release of The Fieldstones' long-shelved Mud Island Blues CD, this compilation provides another hefty look at Memphis Blues between 1981 and 1986, with only three tracks previously having been issued. The Fieldstones have three cuts (Little Bluebird/Sneaking In The Dark), the Hollywood All Stars contribute four (Long Way From Home/Mary Jo/When The Saints Go Marching In/Dirty Work Going On), The Blues Busters another three (Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson/Your Mother Been Talking To You/Jailhouse Rock), Jane Hamilton & The Prime Tyme Band two (What I've Lost/I'm Going To Be A Good Girl), and Huebert Crawford & The King Riders Band offer one (King Riders Boogie). Definitely worth making room on the shelves for.

© 2004 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: New January Reviews

Postby david » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:25 am

How in the hell do you always manage to post these right at payday?

Louisana Red and Charlie Patton are definitely on my list. New strings can wait.
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RE: New January Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:35 pm

Money well spent David! Let us know your thoughts when you've given them a spin or two.
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