Four Aces And A Harp

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Four Aces And A Harp

Postby blueswriter » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:07 am

Swississippi Chris Harper
Four Aces And A Harp
Swississippi (2010) SR 5801

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18 tracks, 70 minutes. Recommended. Although Four Aces And A Harp is credited to Swississippi Chris Harper and features his harp playing all the way through, it’s far more a group effort, and a great one at that by a pretty sizeable bunch of blues veterans. It’s also fairly well balanced between amplified and acoustic blues, as was the plan from its inception. Of the major names here, guitarists Jimmy Burns and John Primer handle five vocal numbers each. Burns is in excellent form on Hand Me Down My Cane, I Smell Trouble, Next Time You See Me, What’s Wrong and especially powerful on a smoking cover of Muddy’s Forty Days And Forty Nights. Primer tackles Down In The Bottom, Mojo Hand, Long Distance Call, Digging My Potatoes as well as Fattening Frogs For Snakes, and as is expected, John is in superb form. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith offers Sloppy Drunk and his own Born In Arkansas sounding much tough as usual. Chris Harper handles four vocals (Blues Is My Life/You Make Me Fly/Eyesight To The Blind/Worried Life Blues) and while his harmonica work is runs the gamut from tough to tender and everywhere in between, his vocals have a slightly odd quality to them because of his accent, which is especially noticeable on Eyesight and Worried Life. Taildragger also gets behind the microphone for a stellar reading of Wolf’s Evil Is Going On. Other names sure to be recognized are those of Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (Willie’s son), Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, Little Frank Krakowski and Bob Stroger. Other noticeable contributors are Dave Katzman, Jimmy Sutton, Mark Wydra and Marty Sammon. All in all, Four Aces And A Harp garners deservedly high marks. With a gathering of blues talent like this, it would have been easy to wind up with a project that was overly busy with too many lengthy solos, but Harper’s production is old-school perfect. There’s absolutely no showboating to be heard and the interplay is wonderful. It’s certainly refreshing to see another new blues label among the ranks of the more established imprints, and for a first effort Swississippi Chris Harper gets off to a solid start. The launch date for Swississippi Records is set for September 21, 2010.

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© 2010 by Craig Ruskey
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