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April 2020

John Primer & Bob Corritore
The Gypsy Woman Told Me
SWMAF / VizzTone Label Group

John Primer & Bob Corritore

I so look forward to every new release being put out by Phoenix blues impresario Bob Corritore, who joins forces with veteran Chicago guitarist / singer John Primer for another outstanding album, The Gypsy Woman Told Me (Southwest Musical Arts Foundation / VizzTone). I've been a big fan of Primer ever since seeing him in Chicago back in the 1980s, around the time he was playing with Magic Slim & the Teardrops as well as doing his own thing. I've seen Primer quite frequently since then and have never been at one of his shows that wasn't first-rate.

That pretty much describes the music on this collaboration with Corritore. It's just solid, no frills blues. It's hard to pick a favorite cut among the dozen songs on the album, because they're all outstanding.

The music on The Gypsy Woman Told Me came from two different sessions --- one at Kid Andersen's Greaseland facility in northern California and the other at Clarke Rigsby's Tempest Recording in Arizona. The backing musicians vary depending on the session, with some great blues players participating.

The album kicks off with Primer playing Elmore James-style guitar on the Chuck Willis classic, "Keep A-Driving," and we get some mighty fine piano playing from Bob Welsh. The title cut, a Muddy Waters cover, comes next, with Welsh again tickling the ivories and Primer laying down some really nice guitar licks. But the best part of this song is the deep blues harmonica solo from Corritore.

Primer is now well into his 70s but his voice still carries plenty of power, which we get to hear on the up-tempo blues, "Knockin' On Your Door." Primer and Corritore then head into the country for a duet on their version of Lil' Son Jackson's "Gambling Blues." It's easy to envision the pair of musicians playing this song while sitting on a back porch somewhere in the rural south; it's got that kind of feel to it.

Drummer June Core drives a propulsive beat on the up-tempo "Little Bitty Woman," a Primer original on which the star of the show plays some blazing slide guitar. The tempo slows considerably on the next number, a very hypnotic version of "Walking The Back Streets And Crying." Jimi "Primetime" Smith joins in on guitar on the funky mid-tempo JJ Cale cover, "I Got The Same Old Blues," with Corritore taking over partway through with a monster harmonica solo.

Corritore and Welsh share the spotlight on Rice Miller's mid-tempo shuffle, "My Imagination," followed by a driving version of Jimmy Reed's "Let's Get Together." Jimmy Rogers fans will be pleased to hear the slow blues, "Left Me With A Broken Heart," which has Corritore summoning his inner Little Walter with some very expressive harp.

"Walked So Long" is another Primer original, this one an eerie country blues with echo in the vocals and Corritore making his harmonica cry out the notes. Closing the album is a hard driving blues shuffle, "Ain't Gonna Be No Cuttin' Loose," with Primer again sounding a lot like Elmore James on hardcore Chicago blues guitar as well as putting plenty of power into his voice. Billy Flynn also joins in on guitar, doubling the pleasure we get from the song. This one just makes me say, "Wow!"

The Gypsy Woman Told Me is an enjoyable gem from start to finish. Primer shows us that he's not slowing down ... not one bit. It's an early candidate for blues album of the year.

--- Bill Mitchell



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