Bill Lupkin

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Bill Lupkin

Postby blueswriter » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:28 pm

Bill Lupkin
Hard Pill To Swallow
Blue Bella (2007) BBCD 1011

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14 tracks, 64 minutes. Highly recommended. The next time someone offers the opinion that blues isn't what it used to be, hand them a catalog from the Blue Bella label and ask if they've listened to anything offered from the small but mighty Illinois imprint. Although blues isn't exactly going through a revival, there are still plenty of artists contributing solid recording projects, and Bill Lupkin is surely one of them. Lupkin moved from Indiana to Chicago in the 1960s hoping to make a living with his harmonica, and found work with Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Young, Jimmy Rogers and other stalwarts in the Windy City. After a few disappointments, including an 'almost but not quite' opportunity with Canned Heat in the 1970s, Lupkin headed home and into musical retirement. Thankfully he's re-emerged over the last few years, proving to any and all interested that he's a force to be reckoned with. Like his earlier Blue Bella release (Where I Come From in 2006), Hard Pill To Swallow is a moody and well-paced nod to the masters he once worked with. That's not to be taken as a lightly passing phrase either. This guy honestly feels that he owes more than a small debt to the people who took him in and gave him his start. Plain and simple, he takes this music seriously and it shows here. Joined by Nick Moss (guitar), Gerry Hundt (guitar and mandolin), Tim Wire (keys), Steve Lupkin (his brother on bass) and Mark Fornek (drums), the grooves are tough, in-the-pocket and greasy. There's the bristling Chicago boogie of Ain't The Way To Do It, a thick and brooding minor-key Bad Love that's laced with thick chromatic, and the relaxed-but-sweltering shuffles of Elgin Bounce or Hook, Line And Sinker to satisfy. As a songwriter, Lupkin is no slouch either. Each of the disc's fourteen cuts are self-penned without relying on all-too-common verses, and once again, Moss shows his mettle as an excellent producer who understands the nuances of blues. These blues go down as easy as well-aged, oak-barrel bourbon but they burn like rot-gut corn liquor. As mentioned in previous reviews, the Blue Bella stable features the finest bevy of young talent around, and while Bill Lupkin may not be a kid anymore, he's in the best company he can keep. Another winner from that little old label in Elgin, Illinois. Damn... this is hot stuff!

Blue Bella Records

© 2008 by Craig Ruskey
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