The Mississippi Marvel & more...

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The Mississippi Marvel & more...

Postby blueswriter » Fri May 01, 2009 4:45 pm

The Mississippi Marvel
The World Must Never Know
Broke & Hungry (2008) BH13005

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10 tracks, 40 minutes. Highly recommended. The general consensus might well be that they don't make records like this any more. Looking at the artists on the Broke & Hungry roster and listening to what the label has delivered thus far, that opinion changes quickly. Who The Mississippi Marvel is will likely be kept a secret, as the church-goers in his community would certainly frown upon his penchant for playing what many there still think of as the devil's music. It's entirely possible he'd become an outcast and the scourge of the small, rural Mississippi town he lives in, so we'll leave well enough alone. A little fair warning is in order considering this label's output, especially if readers are fans of slick, modern blues where studio gimmicks and over-production are common factors. Jeff Konkel, Broke & Hungry's fearless leader, has no need for any of that nonsense. Four of the cuts show the masked wonder's quiet and more introspective approach to Laundromat Blues, Everything's Gonna Be Alright, Catfish Blues and No Mail Blues; all fine and delivered in strong blues fashion. However, the gloves come completely off when the Marvel plugs in to an amplifier and is joined by Lightnin' Malcolm on drums. The traditional .44 Blues is about as even as a back country juke joint's floorboards, while Kankakee rattles and rumbles about a stumbling groove with some eerie falsetto vocals. Stoop Down Mama, Feel Like Layin' Down and Hard Pill To Swallow have nothing at all to do with courtesy either. Jimmy "Duck" Holmes (harp) and Bill Abel (guitar) join in on Waterboy, Waterboy - the standout. This is ragged-and-raw, bare-knuckled blues that reminds those 'in the zone' of a rusted, old, broken-down car bounding and careening down a dusty Delta road flailing left and right, looking like it's about to crash. That, my friends, is the pure genius at work here. There isn't one big, horrific crash - it's a series of accidents that gel beautifully over five-and-a-half minutes with vocal whoops and hollers and insanely distorted guitar over what can loosely be considered a backbeat. Amazing! Make no mistake about it, if your tastes lean toward smoothly-produced blues, you might want to put on Dr. Phil after making it through this disc. But if you like your music with jagged edges that cut right to the bone and make no apologies, this is for you. Archaic and absolutely wonderful.

Broke & Hungry Records

The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue
Command Performance
Delta Groove (2008) DGPCD121

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13 tracks, 75 minutes. Excellent. This is the kind of music that draws fans into our small corral hopefully turning their ears (and hearts) towards the true beat of blues and opening doors to artists most people have little clue or concept of. Is it blues? That's probably open to a lengthy debate without a definitive answer, but it does what it's supposed to. One gets the impression from the cover art that all these recordings came off the ship following the 2007 Blues Cruise. In actuality, only three of the baker's dozen did; Curtis Salgado's version of If It Ain't Me, Tommy Castro's High On The Hog and the Huey Smith classic, Sea Cruise, a musical throwdown. The rest of the tracks were cut 'live' over the course of a few days at different venues in California. Magic Dick revives his old J. Geils harp instrumental Whammer Jammer and tackles Little Walter's Tell Me Mama, while Deanna Bogart offers her own Still The Girl In The Band as well as another Geils number in Looking For A Love, plus Billy Preston's Will It Go Round In Circles. Tommy Castro and Ronnie Baker Brooks wow the crowds with guitar pyrotechnics for a handful, but Brooks misses the mark on his own See You Hurt No More. If fans want to hear over-effected Robin Trower-like guitar, they'd be better served buying Trower's recordings. This disc offers listeners a lot of good variety in artists over seventy-five minutes and a peek at some closer-to-traditional blues with She's Nineteen Years Old. Overall, the guitar solos are generally too over-the-top, the horns blare and blast loudly and there's little in the way of dynamics, but it's music to party by. In that regard, it's definitely successful enough.

Delta Groove

© 2009 by Craig Ruskey
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