Bob Corritore & Friends
Do The Hip-Shake Baby!
Phoenix blues impresario / harmonica player Bob
Corritore has a sterling reputation for taking
steady parade of outstanding blues singers and
players into the studio when they are in town to
play at his Rhythm Room club, resulting in many
years of excellent blues compilations.
Last June I declared his Don't Let The
Devil Ride! album as perhaps his best
collection to date. I will now retract that
statement because Corritore's newest album,
Do The Hip-Shake Baby! (VizzTone Records), is
even better and has already cemented a spot on
my 2019 Top Ten list.
The 13 cuts on Do The Hip-Shake Baby!
were cut in various sessions from 2016 through
2018, containing a veritable who's who of blues
stars and session players as well as Corritore's own harp playing. Every song here is
wonderful, especially if your preferred style of
music is back alley Chicago blues or downhome
blues. There's even a touch of soul found
throughout the disc.
The disc kicks off with Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips,"
opening with some tribal drumming and harmonica
before Mighty Joe Milsap of The Fremonts jumps
in with echo-laden vocals. This version is very
different from the original, but I'm sure that
Slim Harpo would like it. Alabama Mike takes the
lead vocals, with Willie Buck singing behind him,
on the up-tempo shuffle "Gonna Tell Your
Mother," with guitar solos from L.A. Jones. Veteran blues crooner Oscar Wilson steps
up to the mic for a lesser-known Jimmy Reed
song, "Bitter Seed," with nice piano work from
Fred Kaplan. Corritore just plan nails the Jimmy
Reed harp sound, making his riffs the highlight
of this number.
Cut number four is reason enough to buy
this CD, with 90-something piano player Henry Gray doing "The
Twist." That's right, you read that correctly
--- "The Twist," done originally by Hank Ballard
and the Midnighters and then made famous by
Chubby Checker. No other explanation needed
other than a whole bunch of exclamation points.
Bill "Howl-N-Mad" Perry takes us into a
Mississippi jook joint with the slow country
blues "You Better Slow Down." Alabama Mike
returns for a unique version of the blues
standard "Worried Life Blues," a mid-tempo
shuffle with a taste of Sam Cooke in his vocals
while Corritore contributes Louisiana-style harp
and Jimi "Primetime" Smith lays down a killer guitar solo.
As good as the album has been to this point, it
just gets better when John Primer comes in with
a Muddly Waters cover, "Love Deep As The Ocean."
Primer puts a lot of power into his vocals as
well as playing such a strong guitar solo that
I'm sure Muddy would be grinning from ear to
ear. Bob Welsh's piano playing is also a
highlight of this cut. Sugaray Rayford and
guitarist Junior Watson team up on the up-tempo
shuffle "Trying To Make A Living," with
Rayford's vocals booming through the sound
system. We get more outstanding soulful vocals
from Alabama Mike on Little Junior Parker's slow
soul ballad, "Stand By Me." Corritore comes in
with tastefully effective harmonica playing
partway through the tune.
Milsap must really like Slim Harpo's music since
his other contribution to the album is a fine
cover of "I'm Gonna Keep What I've Got," leading
into Jimi "Primetime" Smith's tasteful
the up-tempo blues "I Got The World In A Jug."
I've been listening to Corritore play harmonica
for nearly 30 years, but quite frankly I've
never heard him play to the level of his work on this
song. The man sounds like he's possessed!
Alabama Mike shifts gears completely with the
rockabilly-ish "Few More Days," on which he's
backed by a background chorus of some of the
Phoenix area's best soul singers: Jerry Lawson
(formerly of The Persuasions), Michael Reed,
Stan Devereaux and Phil Hendricks. A brilliant
move in assembling this group of veteran
Closing the disc is a slow-moving, heavy blues,
"Keep The Lord On With You," featuring raspy Howlin' Wolf-style vocals by Sugaray Rayford.
This song is so intense that it should come with
a parental advisory warning. Or maybe not
advised for those with heart conditions.
Regardless, it's an excellent ending to one of
the best albums of the year.
If you have any interest at all in the blues,
which I assume you do since you're reading this
review, then you will absolutely want to add
Do The Hip-Shake Baby! to your shopping
list right away. You may be tempted to just get
the digital version, but I recommend you
order the physical CD so that you have all of the
liner notes and session information. Do it now.
--- Bill Mitchell