I'm Here Baby
Blue Witch Records
Big Pete Pearson has retired from
the music business several times. But the Phoenix, Arizona blues legend
keeps coming back ... and he sounds better every time.
The 70-year-old Pearson is finally
releasing his first nationally-distributed album with I'm Here Baby
(Blue Witch Records). It's long overdue. For those of you hearing
Pearson for the first time, you'll be wondering why this guy hasn't
gotten more acclaim in his 50+ year music career.
An all-star cast joins Pearson on I'm
Here Baby, including his cousin and Alligator recording artist W.C.
Clark, plus Ike Turner, Kid Ramos, Johnny Dyer, Joey DeFrancesco, the
late Chico Chism, and more. But there's no doubting that Pearson is the
star of this show.
Pearson vocal style falls into the blues
shouter genre. While his voice isn't as powerful as it used to be, it's
aged well and Big Pete still packs a wallop into every line.
I'm Here Baby begins with a
rollicking reworking of the classic blues shuffle, "Too Many Drivers,"
that features strong harmonica accompaniment by CD producer Bob
Corritore. The whole band gets to shine on the slow blues "Tin Pan
Alley," with nice guitar work from both Chris James and Johnny Rapp,
tasteful piano from Clay Swafford and more good harp playing from
Corritore, this time using the chromatic.
Pearson then demonstrates his songwriting
ability with the next four songs, all originals, with the strongest
being the ribald and funky "Big Leg Woman." This cut is also marks the
first of two appearances by Hammond B-3 master DeFrancesco, and he
instantly shows with a couple of searing solos why he is one of the best
on the instrument in the jazz world.
I've always felt that Pearson was at his
best on a slow, sultry blues. The top shelf number here is "The Highway
Is Like A Woman," with a classic blues line, "... the highway is like
a woman, real soft shoulders and dangerous curves ...that highway
may get a little bit slick and wet, and those curves can take you out of
this world ..." The legendary
and sometimes infamous Ike Turner makes an appearance on guitar here,
throwing down some dirty licks, while DeFrancesco is back on the B-3.
Again, this man is absolutely incredible on the organ. I'd love to see
Pearson, Turner and DeFrancesco on stage together --- that would be a
killer combination! The session from which "Big Leg Woman" and "The
Highway Is Like A Woman" originated must have been a hot night at Clarke
Rigsby's Tempest Recording studio.
Clark joins Pearson for a duet on the
mid-tempo shuffle, "Pete & W.C.'s Blues Medley." Their voices compliment
each other extremely well as they throw standard blues verses back and
forth at each other for three and a half minutes.
"Natural Ball" has more of a downhome,
back porch feel to it, primarily due to the Rapp's great mandolin work.
Pearson again gets down and dirty on the risqué "My Baby Is A Jockey"
("... my baby's a jockey, rides me night and day ..."), giving
his voice more of a raw, raspy sound. The band must have had a great
time recording this one, because the energy comes blasting right out of
the speakers at you.
The disc ends with Big Pete and W.C.
reminiscing about their time growing up in Texas, swapping stories over
a bed of music, on "Texas Blues Memories." You can't really dance to it,
but it's a priceless piece of blues folklore.
There just aren't enough true blues CDs
like Big Pete Pearson's I'm Here Baby being made today. Cherish