Blues Bytes


November 2021

Dave Specter
Six String Soul - 30 Years on Delmark
Delmark Records

Dave Specter

Yes, it's really been 30 years that Chicago guitarist extraordinaire Dave Specter has been part of the Delmark Records family. 30 years! To commemorate Specter's longevity with the label, Delmark has released a two-disc compilation of 28 recordings, both on his own albums as well as accompaniment of other artists from the label.

Six String Soul - 30 Years on Delmark is a very nice look at this man's career, and also refreshes our collective memories of past singers like Barkin' Bill Smith, Jesse Fortune, Floyd McDaniel, and others. While Delmark has previously issued past anthologies from their long and glorious history, with this album fitting in nicely as still another tribute to the iconic Chicago-based label.

This collection should be cherished for bringing back recordings of the wonderful singer Barkin' Bill Smith, whose rich, throaty voice resonates on the first cut of disc one, "Buzz Me," and later on "Railroad Station." We're also treated to the marvelous "Fortune Tellin Man" from Jesse Fortune, a song that I've never been able to get enough of. Fortune was a vastly underrated singer in his day, and his album by the same name was and still is an absolute gem. Soulful blues singer Tad Robinson, who's still very much on the scene today, shows up on two cuts on disc one, with "Sweet Serenity" coming from the Blueplicity album that they did together, and "Can't Stay Here No More" from an album that also included Al Miller, Willie Kent and Steve Freund.

A highlight of disc two comes on the opening cut, with Lenny Lynn handling vocals with his jazzy, charcoal voice on "Blues On My Mind," sounding very much like a classic slow B.B. King blues. That song was originally released on Blues Spoken Here, billed to both Specter and Lynn. I haven't heard that full album in a long time, so I've got to give that one a spin to remember what I've been missing. Chicago blues veteran Jimmy Johnson joins in on "Feels So Bad," while blues shouter Sharon Lewis hooked up with Specter for the mid-tempo blues shuffle "In Too Deep."

Specter's soul side is given plenty of time with a pair of numbers featuring Otis Clay on vocals. "Got To Find A Way" is up-tempo and uplifting, while Clay switches to a slow, plodding blues, "This Time I'm Gone For Good," with killer blues guitar from Specter. I'm not too familiar with Brother John Kattke, but the Chicago guitarist / singer joins Specter on two numbers, the mid-tempo shuffle "Chicago Style," featuring plenty of big horns, and the funky "March Through the Darkness."

Of course, there are also plenty of instrumental gems throughout the album, with one of my favorites being "Sanctifunkious," as jazz organist Jack McDuff and a whole lot of horns join forces with Specter for this jazzy masterpiece.

Closing the collection is a recent single released by Billy Branch and Specter. The title "Ballad of George Floyd" tells us what we need to know about its contents, and it's a slow blues with plenty of emotion packed into Branch's vocals.

Six String Soul is another important anthology commemorating both Specter and the Delmark label. Not only will I being playing it quite often, but it will also motivate me to go back to listen to the full albums from which these 28 songs originated.

--- Bill Mitchell



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