Long John Hunter
Long John Hunter dominated the outlaw entertainment scene in
Juarez, Mexico for a period of 13 years beginning in 1957, playing his red-hot Texas blues
for visitors to the border town's entertainment district. He then faded into oblivion
until this fine album, originally released by Spindletop Records in 1993, re-introduced
Hunter to another generation of blues fans. Spindletop went out of business not long after
Ride With Me was released, and the disc never got the distribution and
recognition it deserved. Alligator Records has since released two new sets of recordings
by Hunter, and is now giving everyone a second chance at Ride With Me.
While I've enjoyed all of Hunter's CDs, there's still something special about this one. There's a certain freshness to the sound, with a "live in the studio" feel to it. He's backed by Austin's studio regulars (Sarah Brown, Derek O'Brien, George Rains, and Kaz Kazanoff), as well as a pair of Texas old-timers, guitarist T.D. Bell and pianist Erbie Bowser.
Ride With Me opens with the title cut, and it's a quintessential "ridin' in my car" blues shuffle. The horn section of Kazanoff and Red Rails keeps the gas flowing on this number.
Hunter's Albert Collins-style guitar licks provide the introduction to the dance number "El Paso Rock," which no doubt has lured thousands of West Texans to the dance floor over the years.
"Bad Feet" is a fun novelty blues shuffle which features tasteful guitar from Hunter. If you get turned on by a slow Texas blues like I do, then you'll enjoy "I Raise My Hand."
For my money, the strongest number here is "Dream About The Devil," which kicks off with a strong Long John guitar intro. Then the tune moves to another level with some fantastic baritone sax work from Rails. The horns again take the lead on the closing slow blues "Still Blue," which also features sterling piano work from Bowser.
If, like many blues listeners, you missed this album the first time around, don't make the same mistake twice. It'll no doubt make my "top ten" list at the end of '98.
--- Bill Mitchell
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