Blues Bytes


May 2008

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The Kinsey Report
Edge of the City
Alligator Records

Kinsey Report

Back in the mid 1980s, The Kinsey Report, out of Gary, Indiana, was poised to be the “next big thing” in the blues world. Their mix of modern funk and rock (and even reggae) with the traditional Chicago blues they learned at the feet of their father and mentor, Lester “Big Daddy” Kinsey, gave the genre a much-needed shot in the arm. Guitarist Donald Kinsey played with Albert King and reggae legends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and brought both sensibilities to his playing. Previously, the group, along with guitarist Ron Prince, had also backed their father on one of his releases on Rooster Blues, Bad Situation (which Donald Kinsey produced).

Their efforts attracted the attention of Alligator Records head Bruce Iglauer, who gave them the opening cut on his anthology release from 1987, The New Bluebloods. Iglauer liked what he heard enough to produce a couple of later releases for the group on Alligator, the first of which was Edge of the City, which captured perfectly the group’s sound.

The band wrote most of the tunes on the album, and they really shine on high energy tracks like “Poor Man’s Relief,” “Give Me What I Want,” and “Got To Pay Someday,” but they are also capable of slowing things down and getting funky as well on tracks like “Can’t Let You Go,” “Answering Machine,” the old Gerry and the Pacemaker’s (!) hit, “The Game of Love,” transformed by the group into a slow blues with churchy organ provided by St. James Bryant. Two tracks were later added to the disc upon its initial CD release (the alternate track, “No Stranger To The Blues,” and “Corner of The Blanket,” their contribution to The New Bluebloods).

Donald Kinsey’s serpentine leads are stunning, especially on “Full Moon On Main Street.” Prince takes the occasional lead (notably on “Poor Man’s Relief”) and provides stalwart rhythm support. Ralph and Kenneth Kinsey are simply one of the best rhythm sections out there. Everyone is firing on all cylinders throughout. This is one of those discs where everything just comes together and meshes perfectly.

Future efforts at recapturing that magic proved to be unsuccessful. Though the band sounded great on their Alligator follow-up, Midnight Drive paled in comparison to its predecessor. The band moved to Pointblank Records in the early ’90s, where they released a couple of unsuccessful, largely forgotten albums that veered more heavily toward rock. Prince left the group to play with James Cotton and eventually front his own band. Now a trio, the Kinseys returned to Alligator in 1998 and released Smoke and Steel, their best effort in years. They’ve been absent from the studio since, but are still in high demand at concerts and festivals.

--- Graham Clarke


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