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Postby blueswriter » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:39 am

Give Some Body To Somebody
Stackhouse (2006) SRC 1913


13 tracks, 57 minutes. Very good. The name D.C. Bellamy may not set off a multitude of blues alarms simply because he is an artist who shunned the spotlight during his time with half-brother Curtis Mayfield, as well as Betty Everett and others, but he's still deserving of attention. His influences range from the straight blues styles of Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters to soul and R&B and he's a powerful vocalist with a gift for a twist of a phrase making him an interesting songwriter and storyteller. Bellamy supplies his own guitar to more than half the disc with Walker Tippit shining on a few plus harp work from J.P. Drum is strong. Recorded at Blue Heaven Studios and produced by Jim O'Neal (neither needing much of introduction to blues fans), Bellamy hands in a solid effort.

D.C. Bellamy

Drew, Mississippi
Black & Tan (2006) B&T 029


10 tracks, 52 minutes. Recommended. Pairing the talented singer/harpist Boo Boo Davis with Ramon Goose of NuBlues translates into a disc rooted deep in Mississippi with more than a touch of modern grooves and recording techniques, but for those thinking of the often bombastic Fat Possum approach, think again. The snarling vocals and backwoods harp from Davis along with the jangling slide guitar work manage to keep the Mississippi landscape and its rich history as the focus with overdubs and sampling staying more in the background as opposed to being the disc's main interest. For many, mainstream blues has certainly become far too predictable with each passing year, but in the hands of Boo Boo Davis with Ramon Goose at his side, and a distinctly fresh outlook from both, this is a hands-down winner. Gritty, tough, and up-to-date, this is one of the more rewarding discs of 2006.

Boo Boo Davis

Fine Fine Thing!
High John (2006) 01739


12 tracks, 45 minutes. Excellent. The recent passing of Floyd Dixon marked the death of a true pioneer who was around at the beginning of the West Coast's development into a major blues recording locale in the 1940s, thanks in part to Dixon's gems Call Operator 210 and Telephone Blues. In fact, a number of the artist's songs have become part of the blues lexicon, including his now-famous Hey Bartender. With a small band of bass, drums, and Hammond B3, plus Tony Mathews on guitar (along with a tight horn section on half the disc), Dixon's piano and songwriting skills were still sharp and intact on this outing. Missing is much of the smoothness Dixon's voice delivered in the early years, but the songs here are still laced with the wit and wisdom of his years. Candye Kane guests on Love's The Key and the gospel-flavored My Wish.

High John Records

Times Bring About A Change
High John (2006) 52062


17 tracks, 76 minutes. Highly recommended. This disc's full title is Times Bring About A Change - A Floyd Dixon Celebration and a celebration it was (recorded shortly before Floyd's death in September) laced with an all-star cast in support plus a few piano veterans showing up for the show. The band includes Kid Ramos on guitar with Larry Taylor and Richard Innes comprising the rhythm section along with Kim Wilson dishing out his seemingly always-present tough harmonica backing a former member of Howlin' Wolf's band, Henry Gray, for Henry's House Rocker, Sweet Home Chicago and Dust My Broom) as well as Pinetop Perkins on Down In Mississippi, Come Back Baby and Since I Lost My Baby). Dixon himself was present and in great form on Hole In The Wall, Cold Cold Feeling, I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town, Call Operator 210, and five more with four tracks augmented by a small but rippling horn section. Recorded live at Phoenix's Rhythm Room in July of 2006 in front of an appreciative audience, this one hits on all cylinders. Superb.

High John Records

Heart And Soul - The Best Of Ronnie Earl
Shout Factory (2006) 10061


15 tracks, 72 minutes. Excellent. The career of Ronnie Earl (like many storied bluesmen) has been one of severe ups and downs with the guitarist having battled numerous demons and emotional problems through the years but his music has almost always been soulful - if at times focus-impaired. This collection gathers 15 strong cuts that range from Earl's initial outing on Black Top with the instrumental Ronnie Johnnie and Bobby Bland's I Smell Trouble to his latest Stony Plain effort with Duke Robillard for What Have I Done Wrong along with many more exciting stops in between. Sugar Ray Norcia, Darrell Nulisch, Kim Wilson and Mighty Sam McClain tackle the vocal chores with Ronnie's prowess showing to great effect on the instrumentals Catfish Blues, Little Johnny Lee, Off The Hook and others. Some overlap with past compilations but far more up-to-date and a fine introduction to one of the finest guitarists in blues.

Shout Factory

Blast Off - The Best Of Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
Shout Factory (2006) 10060


17 tracks, 58 minutes - Excellent. This disc is actually more deserving of an "excellent with reservations" grade based on the tracklist as eleven cuts have been duplicated from an out-of-print (but still easily available) compilation of Anson Funderburgh's work. Anson's catalog isn't exactly small (although a fair portion of it is currently out-of-print) but Shout Factory fell far short of issuing an exciting and varied overview by including only one cut with Darrell Nulisch as The Rockets' vocalist (The Blues Seem To Follow Me which is actually Little Milton's Same Old Blues) as he was present and in tough form on Funderburgh's first two long-players for Black Top. Sam Myers was certainly a top-notch singer/harp and a solid replacement (many would agree Myers went on to define the band), but ignoring Nulisch's talents as a harpist borders on criminal. Its content surely marks great blues with excellent singing, harp, and guitar work but the label failed miserably in its quest to offer a "best of" assortment due to an unexplainably narrow-minded approach.

Shout Factory

Ain't Easy No More
Electro-Fi (2006) 3398


13 tracks, 48 minutes - excellent. From the jumping Ray Charles opener Get On The Right Track to the old school stop-time groove in Muddy Waters' She's Got It, Mark Hummel proves once again that he can stand with the best of them as a harp player. His vocals have perhaps never been his strongest suit but he's certainly becoming more confident with each recording and he's potent and enjoyable here as on B.B. King's Jump With You Baby and Eddie Boyd's Blues Is Here To Stay, both overflowing with tradition and Hummel continues to serve up a vintage approach on his own cuts Harpoventilating, Bird Brain, and I Didn't Need Another Heartache. Charles Wheal's guitar work shines and the rhythm section of Steve Wolf and Marty Dodson provide the muscular underpinning throughout the baker's dozen. Another fine showing from Mark Hummel - and his Blues Survivors - which should come as no surprise to those familiar with his previous efforts.

Electro-Fi Records

Last Call - The Mellow Sounds of Lynwood Slim
Delta Groove (2006) 108


12 tracks, 45 minutes - recommended. While this disc of Richard Duran's (otherwise known as Lynwood Slim) might be a little more in a mellow vein, delving into the swinging, jazz-infused side of blues has never been anything he has avoided - Slim's got a voice as smooth as silk and its instrument quality has been clearly evident to those aware of his earlier work. While Pete Johnson's Wee Baby Blues, Duke Ellington's Nothin' But The Blues, and Irving Berlin's Me, Myself & I might indeed be more restrained than Duran's Say It (with the Chicago Blues Angels featuring Nick Moss and his slashing guitar) or Clifton Chenier's All Night Long, Lynwood Slim continues to wander the many sides of blues and its rich past with ease, success, and respect. Support comes from a cast including Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Richard Innes and other veterans just as talented.

Delta Groove

All discs are available by clicking on the links provided after each review and also from Roots & Rhythm - "the internet's best source of on-line roots music."

© 2007 by Craig Ruskey
Last edited by blueswriter on Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cas » Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:23 pm

Thanks BW, good to see you back.

Ah, so much great music, so little time.


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