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February 2005

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Louisiana Red
No Turn On Red
 
HighTone

Louisiana RedLouisiana Red has recorded literally dozens of albums during his 50+ year blues career. I admit that I haven't listened to everything this great bluesman has recorded, but without hesitation I can say that No Turn On Red should go down as one of his best ever.

In fact, it's not much of a stretch to say that this disc rivals the best downhome Chicago blues recordings of the golden era of the 1950s.

The 11 cuts on No Turn On Red, produced by Bob Corritore, were recorded over seven different sessions, most occurring in 2002 and 2004. The CD's closing cut, "Everybody Laughs At Me," was done in 1982.

Corritore assembled great groups of backing musicians for the sessions. At times, one could swear that Red was playing in front of a band transplanted from a 1950s-era Chess Records session.

No Turn On Red opens with the artist performing solo on "Red's Hobo Blues." Red's guitar emits a heavy, fuzzy sound, almost getting a little psychedelic at times. Vocally, he sounds reminiscent of Lightnin' Hopkins on this cut.

"Freight Train To Ride" features a dynamite slide guitar break that would make Elmore James smile.

Red pours out his heart and soul on "September 11th Blues," a simple but elegantly beautiful tribute to the lives lost in the tragedies at the World Trade Center.

The Muddy-ish "Cotton Pickin' Blues" is the hottest number on the disc, featuring exemplary slide guitar work along with excellent harp accompaniment from Corritore.

Pianist Matt Bishop provides tasteful playing on the mid-tempo "Mary Dee Shuffle," with Red contributing nice downhome guitar.

In one of his strongest vocal performances on the disc, Red shouts out the blues on "Red's New Dream," a raucous Muddy-ish 'hoochie coochie' style number.

It's apparent that No Turn On Red was a labor of love for both the artist and the producer, with the best of multiple sessions being brought together to form what will undoubtedly be one of the best traditional blues albums of the year.

It's certainly worthy of widespread recognition, so spread the news --- Louisiana Red is hot!

--- Bill Mitchell

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