Friday, December 31, 2021

FBF's Top 20 for 2021

You may have noticed a lack of activity on the blog over the past few months.......if you've stopped by to visit, that is (if you have, much appreciated).  I apologize, but things have been hectic around the old homestead, really over the past couple of years, but more so since August.  I would think about writing something up at the beginning of the week, then it would never occur to me again until it was too late to post on Friday ('cause Friday Blues Fix, you know).  Fortunately, the household seems to be on the way to recovery and things seem to be settling down at work, too.  I want to keep the blog going as long as I can, but things happen.  I do appreciate everyone who stops by and reads the old posts.

I haven't exactly been idle as far as the blues goes.  I'm still cranking out reviews of new (and a few old) albums at Blues Bytes each month, but I have a huge stack that I'm working through....I've had some for over a year.  I used to average about 15-18 reviews a month, but now I'm only able to do about 10-12.  I also have a blog post that I've been working on for a couple of months, off and on, about a legendary bluesman from years ago.  I'm hoping that will spring a few sequel posts along the same line.  In addition, I am working on a guest post for another blog......I'll tell you more about it when (if) it goes live.

I also plan to track down a few Mississippi blues man headstones in the coming months.  I've got several that are close by that I didn't even realize were near, so more about those later, too.  I'm also going to start looking at some of Mississippi's pre-war blues figures, which was inspired by some of these recent excursions to gravesites and the used record store, so be patient. 

Meanwhile, here's my Top 20 for 2021, in no particular order.  Again, I have a stack to listen to and I try to at least listen to most of the new CDs I get in the mail, but it may be a while before I actually write them up for Blues Bytes, but my Top 10 of these 20 will be published there sometime in January.

Rodd Bland and the Memphis Only Band - Live on Beale Street:  A Tribute to Bobby "Blue" Bland (Nola Blue Records):  A loving tribute to father from son that any fan of the father needs to hear.

Robben Ford - Pure (Ear Music):  Ford's first instrumental album in nearly 25 years is a near-perfect combination of his blues and jazz sensibilities, leaning toward the blues.  A stellar effort.

Stevie J Blues - Quarantined (PKMG):  A strong set of contemporary blues and soul-blues that embraces old school, while being thoroughly modern at the same time.

Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans - The Music Gets Us Thru (ManHatTone Records):  Vickers and band always just miss my Top 20 with their always interesting releases.....modern tunes with a nod to the earliest blues stars (particularly Tampa Red). This is their best release to date.

Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra - Not In My Lifetime (Blue Dot Records):  Walker's final recordings, completed just a few days before his death, are superb. 

Ben Levin - Still Here (VizzTone):  Piano blues are making a strong comeback thanks to some fantastic young talent.  Levin has put out two masterful releases for VizzTone in the last couple of years and he's barely in his twenties.

Dexter Allen - Keep Moving On (Endless Blues Records):  This is a great set of contemporary blues and soul from a Mississippi blues man who deserves to be better known.  

Eddie Turner -   Change In Me (7-14 Records):  It's been a long time since I've heard Turner's powerful brand of blues and this one didn't disappoint.  

Chris Gill - Between Midnight and Louise (Endless Blues Records):  Gill turns in one of the best solo acoustic recordings that I've heard in a long time.  If you like acoustic blues, you need this in your collection. 

Clarence Spady - Surrender (Nola Blue Records):  I wish Spady recorded more's grueling to wait so long between releases, especially when they're this great.

Corey Ledet - Corey Ledet Zydeco (Nouveau Electric Records):  I really started back listening to zydeco this year, both my old collection and several awesome new releases.  Ledet's tribute to his legendary family and the music that influenced him is loaded with life and energy.....both traditional and modern at the same time.

Gerald McClendon - Let's Have A Party! (Delta Roots Records):  If vintage soul, blues, and R&B is your bag, look no further.  

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Layla Revisited (Live at Lockn') (Fantasy Records):  Not many bands would dare to take on the Derek and the Dominos classic, but TTB is more than up to the task (with an assist from Trey Anastasio and Doyle Bramhall II) and while it doesn't make you forget the original, it certainly deserves a place next to it.

Veronica Lewis - You Ain't Unlucky (Blue Heart Records):  Another firebrand piano player, 17 year old Lewis is a force of nature on this wild and varied set of piano-driven blues.

Dwayne Dopsie - Set Me Free (Louisiana Red Hot Records):  This disc reminded me why I started listening to zydeco in the first place.  Dopsie does a wonderful job, mixing in just enough soul and blues while keeping you dancing.

Robbin Kapsalis & Vintage #18 - Soul Shaker (Bird Song Records):  Kapsalis is one of the strongest vocalist currently practicing in the blues and soul genres.  It certainly helps that she's backed by one of the tightest bands currently practicing as well.

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - 662 (Alligator Records):  Ingram expands on his sound with some excellent songwriting and weaving some soul and R&B into his blues.  Don't sweat it though.....there's still plenty of his powerhouse guitar present.

Guy King - Joy Is Coming (IBF Records):  King's first release since 2016 is an inspired, stunning work that encompasses blues, soul, jazz, and vintage R&B.  Well worth the wait for a soul-satisfying experience.

Sean Chambers - That's What I'm Talkin' About:  A Tribute to Hubert Sumlin (Quarto Valley Records):  Chambers presents a powerhouse blues rock set paying tribute to one of his biggest influences and, as a bonus, Sumlin's chief employer as well.

New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers - Vol. 2 (Stony Plain Records):  The second volume of this super session from 2007 featuring Jim, Luther, and Cody Dickinson, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus, and Charlie Musselwhite is as much fun as the first volume.

That's our Top 20 for 2021.  Hopefully, some of those are yours, too.  Thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you soon.