Every few years an album is released in January or February, and you immediately know it's going to be the best for that year. It happened to me in 1990 with The Holmes Brothers' In The Spirit, and again one year later with Robert Ward's Fear No Evil.
I think it's about to happen again with Chicago veteran Dave Myers' first album, You Can't Do That. I just can't imagine hearing anything better than this for a long, long time. Even though he's been on the Chicago scene for over 40 years, this is amazingly the first time Myers has ever recorded a solo album! Of course he's appeared quite frequently as a sideman, most notably in the 1950s with Little Walter's backing band, The Aces.
You Can't Do That is magnificent in its simplicity, just pure, unadulterated vintage Chicago blues lovingly played by some of its best practitioners. No gimmicks, no special effects ... just the blues, man! Kim Wilson, the closest thing our generation has to Little Walter, plays harp on the album, and Rusty Zinn adds exceptional second guitar behind Myers' leads.
The album commences with a simple guitar intro by Myers to the Fats Domino song "Please Don't Leave Me," leading into fervent vocals by the leader and good instrumental breaks from Wilson and Zinn.
The instrumental "Dave's Boogie Guitar" is strictly Myers' show, as he does a walkin' blues type of thing, not unlike something you would have heard from The Aces nearly half a century ago.
I especially enjoyed the version of Sonny Boy I's "Elevate Me, Mama," with Wilson's soaring harmonica riffs bridging nicely between Myers' impassioned vocals. Great stuff!
Your first listen to "Oh Baby" will have you double-checking your CD player to be sure you didn't inadvertently insert an old Little Walter disc. No, this is still Dave Myers, and that's really Kim Wilson on harmonica.
"Going Home Tomorrow" creeps along at a snail's pace, but at the end you'll wish it lasted longer than its four minutes and 10 seconds. With a blues this slow, you get to hang on Myer's every word and on every blow of the harmonica. You just can't rush greatness.
Zinn is given the opportunity to step to the front on "Stone Cold Fox," and rewards us with some nice T-bone Walker-style licks. Steve Lucky also contributes strong piano work here.
Listen closely, blues fans ...I'm only going to say this once. The blues just doesn't get any better than this! Run, don't walk, to the nearest music store to get your copy of You Can't Do That. And then remember to e-mail me next December to agree that this was the best blues CD of 1998.
- Bill Mitchell
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