March Reviews...

Your chance to write big-time blues reviews. Only two rules: First, if you're connected to the band or artist, go to Shameless Promotion; Second, don't write a book -- keep it relatively short and simple, no 1,000+ word epics.

Oh .. and make it fun.

March Reviews...

Postby blueswriter » Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:24 am

Howdy again. Here are more reviews the dedicated and faithful should be aware of. As usual, there's more on the way... I never seem to quite wade through it all but that's no complaint. Coming up; Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, B.B. King, Otis Spann, George Smith, the Trumpet recordings box set on JSP, and a couple of book reviews. My thanks for reading! ;)

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Dirty Work At The Crossroads 1947-1953
Acrobat (2007) 216


28 tracks, 77 minutes, excellent. Comparisons to T-Bone Walker are bound to surface during discussions of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as they played a similar guitar style, both preferred large and swinging bands, and their voices weren't all that far apart in range or approach. Gate's earlier recordings were actually molded to resemble Walker's work in hope's of appealing to T-Bone's loyal record-buying followers. However, when Gatemouth Brown stepped out from behind Walker's shadow, he proved himself a true original. This collection's twenty-eight cuts cover an eight-year period between 1947 and 1954 (Okie Dokie Stomp dates from a 1954 session - not 1953) and while it's a fine introduction to this guitarist's bristling style, it would have garnered higher marks if a few sides from Gate's 1954 session for Don Robey were included. What is here displays Brown's talents well to-the-fore with My Time Is Expensive, I Live My Life, She Winked Her Eye, Sad Hour, Dirty Work At The Crossroads, Gate Walks To Board plus plenty more, and each track sizzles with some seriously greasy guitar work. If your introduction to Gatemouth has been on hold, this is a fine starting point, and it's worth every penny just to marvel in amazement as his guitar tone developed over the early years from a smooth, laid-back sound to one of devastating and crunching power.

Acrobat Music

Otis Grand
Hipster Blues
Bliss Street Records (2006)


14 tracks, 68 minutes, recommended. With a trunkload of discs already to his credit, a number of them collaborations with friends like Guitar Shorty and Joe Louis Walker, if Otis Grand isn't a familiar name, you need to enroll in Blues 101... please check your local community college or library for further information. This cat's guitar prowess has garnered him numerous awards - he's deserving of them all - and his discs always display a fine gathering of talent. Hipster Blues continues that tradition with Curtis Salgado, Sugar Ray Norcia, and others handling the vocals, while the core band consists of bass, drums, and keyboards (a few with old friends Mudcat Ward, Anthony Geraci, and Neil Gouvin). What's different here from Grand's previous efforts is the stunning choice of material. There's no shortage of straight-ahead blues flexing; Never Raise My Hand, Satan's Blues and the over-too-quickly storm of Sad Blues - for Peter Green. But it's nice to hear Otis tackle (for lack of a better term) some real hipster's blues; Freddy King's Overdrive, The Farina Brothers' Sleepwalk, the Memphis-like grease of Slo-Mo-Shun, a bubbling Grand original complete with party girls in the background, and Otis' Hipster Blues No. 5, a slice of brilliant and jazzy lounge exotica. This reviewer is willing to step out on the proverbial limb and state that Otis Grand has just delivered his smartest disc yet. Laced with smoldering guitar, tasty horn arrangements here and there, some deliciously cheesy organ, and a cast of sidemen that push hard without overstepping their boundaries, it's got everything needed - nothing more and nothing less.

Otis Grand

© 2007 by Craig Ruskey
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