Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Albums You Might Have Missed (V.5)

The past few years, we've seen a lot of great blues albums many that sometimes it's hard to get them all, so a lot of excellent listening might slip under the radar unnoticed, either due to limited distribution, lack of publicity, or sometimes just plain old bad luck (this is the blues we're talking about, right?).  With these posts, Friday Blues Fix aims to help out everybody.....we help get these well-deserving albums a listen and we make sure you loyal blues fans are aware of them.  You are welcome.

Bobby Rush - Raw (Deep Rush Records):  This was a big change of pace for the Chitlin' Circuit King.  This came out around the time that Rush was enjoying a new wave of popularity after he appeared in the Martin Scorsese mini-series, The Blues, and he was inspired to return to his roots.  Raw is just like the title, stripped-down blues at its most basic.  Most of these songs are Rush originals, but he also tackles three covers, "Boney Maroney," "School Girl" (the standard "Good Morning, Little School Girl"), and "Howlin' Wolf."  Of course, when you say "Rush originals," you have to remember that most of Rush's songs "borrow" themes and ideas from other songs.  This is nothing new.....blues artists have been doing this since the beginning (Willie Dixon was one of the best at this).  Rush acquits himself quite well as a guitarist....we already knew he was an underrated harp player.  Shawn Kellerman adds dobro on several tracks.  If all you've ever heard of Bobby Rush is his unique brand of soul/blues (called "Folk Funk" by the man himself), this set will be a pleasant surprise and shows that had Rush gone a different musical route with the blues, he would have been just fine.

T-Model Ford - Jack Daniel Time (Mudpuppy Recordings):  Ford recorded this set at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale with some assistance from Terry "Harmonica" Bean, guitarist Bill Abel, and drummers Sam Carr and Lee Williams.  Ford works through a fairly typical set of his raucous, rowdy Delta blues, but the bonus is the three acoustic tracks he turns in, which are pretty neat and show a side of him that many had not previously seen.  All of Ford's CDs are a lot of fun, but this one may be my favorite for many reasons (Ford is really in his element here and it's a really relaxed, laid-back set...the acoustic tracks are really good), but the biggest is the inclusion of my all-time favorite blues instrumental, "Red's Houseparty."

Eddie King - Another Cow's Dead (Roesch Records):  Behind this slightly twisted album cover lies some fantastic music.  King passed away a couple of months ago, but he left us this stellar set of soul-soaked blues released during the late 90's.  He played guitar in Koko Taylor's band for years, so he was criminally underrecorded.  This album features several members of the Blues Brothers horn section (Birch "Slide" Johnson, Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin, and Blue Lou Marini, plus Ronnie Cuber) on several tracks.  King's own tunes are a mix of soul and blues, with standouts like "Kitty Kat," "Walk Right On In," and "Hey Mr. Bluesman," and the covers are in the same mold, with one of the best being King's version of Luther Ingram's "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right."  It's too bad this guy didn't get a few more opportunities in the studio.

Dave Perkins - Pistol City Holiness:  Wow!  This one knocked me for a loop when I heard it a couple of years ago.  I'll make this as simple as possible.....if you're a blues/rock fan, you NEED this disc.  You will listen to it and listen to it and then listen to it some more.  Perkins has played guitar with artists ranging from Vassar Clements, Ray Charles, Jerry Jeff Walker, Carole King, and Guy Clark, but on this release, he is all about the blues.  From the opening cut, "Break," you will be hooked. He also does one of the best versions of Freddie King's "Goin' Down" that you will ever hear.  Others tracks that need to be heard include the instrumental "Cherryfish and Chicken," "Train at Night," and the track on the video below, "Devil's Game."  Perkins recently did the music for the upcoming movie, Deadline, and the just-released soundtrack is excellent, so by all means, check out Dave Perkins.  You can thank me later.

Hope Waits (Radarproof Records):  Waits is a Louisiana native with a deep, sultry voice.  Her debut release, out in 2007, is an impressive mix of blues, soul, and jazz.  She might remind some listeners of Norah Jones a bit, but her vocals are edgier and sometimes almost hypnotic.  The arrangements are very sparse, giving her incredible vocals plenty of room.  For me, the best tracks were the jazzy interpretation of Jackie Wilson's "I'll Be Satisfied," an intense version of Otis Redding's "Cigarettes and Coffee," and Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells," but the biggest catch of all is the dazzling reading of "Drown In My Own Tears."  Waits makes the Ray Charles standard her own with a breathtaking performance.  This is the only release for Waits so far, but hopefully there's more in the works.

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