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December 1997

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Carey Bell
Good Luck Man
Alligator Records

Carey Bell's Good Luck Man coverThere are only a handful of harmonica guys with connections to the golden era of 1950s Chicago blues still around. Of those remaining, Carey Bell is arguably the best pure harp player of the bunch.

Good Luck Man is his second full album for Alligator, and it maintains the same high standards of his previous release, Deep Down. Bell really hasn't lost any of his chops over the years. Rather, I think that his harp playing might be getting stronger.

Right away, on the opening cut "My Love Strikes Like Lightning," you'll hear some incredibly innovative harmonica work. The two original instrumental numbers, "Bell Hop" and "Double Cross," both give Bell the opportunity to further flex his harmonica biceps. The latter tune includes some nice riffs on the chromatic, while the former evokes strong memories of Little Walter.

Bell is supported on Good Luck Man by his longtime guitar player, Steve Jacobs, who gets to show off on the slow blues "Bad Habits." Piano player Johnny "Fingers" Iguana provides excellent accompaniment, especially on two other slow blues, "Hard Working Woman" and "Teardrops."

While less than half of the selections on Good Luck Man are Bell originals, he does a good job of selecting cover songs. Most notably is the title cut, a catchy mid-tempo blues which takes the opposite theme of most blues songs.

I recommend that you add Carey Bell's Good Luck Man to your "must have" list.

- Bill Mitchell

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