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March 1999

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Buy Snooky Pryor's CD today

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Snooky Pryor
Shake My Hand
Blind Pig

Snooky Pryor - Shake My HandSnooky Pryor must have discovered the Fountain of Youth. Every few years I hear from someone that Snooky is retiring, that he's going to stay at home and stop touring and recording. Then I see his name in a festival lineup somewhere, and before long there's a new Snooky Pryor CD on the market.

We all should get down on our knees and thank someone that Mr. Pryor continues to delay his retirement plans. Now just shy of 80 years old, he just keeps getting better with age. Shake My Hand shows that Snooky's voice and his harmonica playing are as powerful as ever!

He's backed here by a couple of Chicago's top session musicians in guitarist Billy Flynn and bassist Robert Stroger, as well as drummer Jimmy Tilman. This trio does an excellent job in playing Snooky's style of traditional Chicago blues without intruding in his spotlight.

The first number,  the beautiful slow blues "Shake My Hand," features just Snooky, without the band. He intros with a harmonica solo, playing the higher notes of the register, then checks in with his strong voice booming away.

Pryor then blows some powerful harp on his version of Hank Ballard's "Work With Me Annie." What was originally a ribald dance tune becomes more of a country picnic frolic in Snooky's hands.

Another great number is Sleepy John Estes's classic "Someday Baby." Snooky puts a little more emotion into this one. Tilman does a great job of keeping the beat on the drums without infringing on Snooky's space.

The strongest cut is the slow blues "Headed South," on which Pryor lets loose on both vocals and his most inventive harmonica work. Incredible! When Snooky proclaims, "I think I've got to blow my horn," it's time to sit up and pay attention.

Flynn shows us why he's one of Chicago's tastiest guitar players on this disc, especially on "Work With Me Annie" and the mid-tempo "My Babe" (a Pryor original, not the Little Walter song by the same name).

Snooky Pryor is a national treasure, and every note of music recorded by this man should be savored.

--- Bill Mitchell

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