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June 2008

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Willie Kent
Ain't It Nice
Delmark

Willie Kent

This review first appeared in the Phoenix Blues Society's Blues News in March 1992. At the time I believed this album to be a good, basic Chicago blues disc. My opinion of it has not changed in the intervening 16 years.

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As much recognition as the Chicago blues scene gets from the media today, there are still a lot of relatively unknown, but good, musicians who have been around for a long time.

One of these is Willie Kent, who was born in Mississippi (where else!) in 1936 and has been playing the blues clubs in Chicago since the 1950s.

On this album, Ain't It Nice, you won't find guest appearances or endorsements from big rock stars, or anything like that. What you do get is basic, no-frills Chicago blues, as rough-edged as the neighborhoods where bassist Kent has been playing for 30 years.

It's a steady album, as none of the cuts jump out at you as being any better than the rest. One number features equally unknown singer Bonnie Lee performing her original "I'm Good," which she cut as a single on the Chicago-based Big Boy Records and which was later covered by Johnny Winter on his 1986 Alligator album Third Degree.

Playing mean harp throughout Ain't It Nice is harmonica stalwart "Mad Dog" Lester Davenport, who first achieved fame with Bo Diddley in the 1950s playing the harmonica parts on the original of "I'm A Man."

--- Bill Mitchell

 

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