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September 2009

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Dave Riley and Bob Corritore
Lucky To Be Living
Blue Witch Records

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore have enjoyed a five-year friendship and musical partnership that culminated in 2007’s Travelin’ The Dirt Road, which was nominated for a Blues Music Award for Acoustic Album of the Year and was considered one of the best releases of that year. The combination of Riley’s Mississippi Delta blues and Corritore’s great Chicago harmonica style, plus their wonderful rapport made for entertaining listening.

Their sophomore effort, on Blue Witch Records, is entitled Lucky To Be Living, and continues in the same vein as its predecessor, sounding for all the world like it could have been recorded during the heyday of those great down-home Frank Frost/Sam Carr/Big Jack Johnson recordings from the ’60s. In fact, the duo covers four Frank Frost compositions. “Jelly Roll King” is reworked into a tribute of sorts to some of Riley’s close friends, including Frost (who gave Riley his start as a professional musician), Carr, Carr’s wife Doris, and John Weston.

The title track is appropriate as the pair has seen many fellow musicians and friends pass away in recent years (including three of the four subjects of the opening track, as well as Robert Jr. Lockwood and Chico Chism) and feel fortunate to still be around. The other Frost covers are “Ride with Your Daddy Tonight,” featuring Henry Gray on piano and Chris James on guitar, and “The Things You Do,” a Delta shuffle so authentic you can feel the humidity.

Additional cover tunes include John Weston’s “Sharecropper Blues,” which features great interplay between Riley and Corritore, and an unplugged remake of Fred James’ “Automobile,” which Riley originally performed on the Cannonball Record’s Blues Across America anthology collection’s disc on the Helena scene. Riley also contributes several songs, including the gospel-inflected “On My Way,” the loose-limbed “Back Down The Dirt Road,” and the all-acoustic “Country Rules.”

It was a great day when these guys decided to record together. It’s obvious that they had a ball making this music and you will have a ball listening to it. Lucky To Be Living will definitely please fans of pure, unvarnished, undiluted down-home blues.

--- Graham Clarke

I have to say right at the start that I really like Lucky To Be Living (Blue Witch Records). I haven’t heard much of Dave Riley and Bob Corritore before, but I’ll be making sure that I listen out for them in the future. Dave Riley has made one solo album before as well as another one with Bob Corritore, so I’ll be making sure that those two CDs join my collection.

Incidentally, Corritore is a producer, as well as a good harmonica player, and his track record includes production for Pinetop Perkins, Fred Below, R.L.Burnside and Louisiana Red and harmonica support for Willie Dixon and Otis Rush.

This CD opens with a song about Sam Carr, “Jelly Roll King,” a nice medium up-tempo number with some solid harmonica from Corritore driving the song along, and it slides into “Ride With Your Daddy Tonight” with some nice barrelhouse piano standing out against the rhythm section, Riley’s guitar and Corritore’s harmonica.

“On My Way” is another foot tapping, medium up-tempo number, well written and well played, which slips into the slow and moody “Lucky To be Living,” which sounds as though it could be Riley’s biography! (I don’t know enough about the man to establish if my guess has any substance). It tells of a man (Riley, or not) who has been shot and had his neck broken twice!

“Back Down The Dirt Road” speeds up things a little, and then “Let’s Get Together” lifts it a bit more, before the pace slows back down with “Country Rules,” a nice gentle song with vocals, guitar and harmonica – this track put me in mind of the material written and performed by Alabama based Shar-Baby.

There really isn’t a bad track on this album, or even one that is of a lesser standard than the others. If I didn’t already have the CD, I’d rush right out and buy it.

--- Terry Clear


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