Mercy! A Tribute to William Clarke
Blue Edge Records
Kansas City's Scottyboy Daniel Blues Band
went in a different direction with their second CD,
Mercy!, for Blue Edge Records. The concept
behind this disc was to pay tribute to one of the
band's musical mentors, the late Southern California
bluesman William Clarke. The project had the
blessing of Clarke's late wife, Jeannette, who
provided vintage photos for the CD sleeve. Former
Clarke guitarist John Marx was brought in to play
guitar and to help oversee the recording sessions.
Bandleader Scott Daniel even strikes a similar pose
as was often used on the cover of Clarke's Alligator
Mercy! includes a dozen of Clarke's better
known recordings, plus one additional instrumental
cut, "Tribute To William Clarke," a slow blues that
closes out this fine collection.
The risk with this type of project is that it
invites comparison to the original versions.
Daniel's versions of Clarke's compositions don't
stray far from the original arrangements, I'm
guessing by design. To his credit, Daniel doesn't
try to be just like William Clarke on this
collection. I don't particularly care for tribute
albums in which the artist recording the CD tries,
usually unsuccessfully, to sound exactly like the
artist they are attempting to emulate. That would
have been extremely difficult for Daniel, because
Clarke had the unique ability to make his harmonica
sound like an entire horn section, while his
powerful voice could easily fill a concert hall.
Mercy! opens appropriately with "Blowin' Like
Hell," which was the title cut to Clarke's first
Alligator album, the disc that brought this
semi-obscure Southern California musician into the
blues mainstream in a hurry. It's a smokin'
instrumental that shows Daniel to be a pretty darn
good harmonica player in his own right.
Up next is another excellent cut from Blowin'
Like Hell, the slow blues "Lonesome Bedroom
Blues." We get our first chance to hear Daniels
sing. His voice doesn't possess the same power and
timbre as Clarke's, but remember I said he isn't try
to sound like Clarke. But he's got a decent singing
voice and aptly handles the material here.
Other highlights include the boogie woogie piano
work done by Shinetop Jr. on "Love You, Yes I Do"
and the jump blues of "Educated Fool," featuring
excellent guitar work from Marx. This was one of my
favorite Clarke numbers and I'm glad Daniel chose to
include it on his tribute CD.
"Feel Like Jumpin'" is another really good number,
with Daniel bringing forth his strongest vocals on
The closing number, "Tribute To William Clarke,"
wraps up this CD very nicely, with Daniel playing
chromatic harp on a extended slow blues.
If, like me, you were a big fan of William Clarke's
music, you'll thoroughly enjoy this CD --- as long
as you don't get hung up on comparing Daniel's
covers to the originals. Mercy! is a fine CD
in its own right, and I look forward to hearing more
from Daniel as his career proceeds.
--- Bill Mitchell