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September 1998

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Buy Guitar Shorty's CD today


Guitar Shorty
Roll Over, Baby
Black Top

Guitar Shorty - Roll Over, BabyThe fact that Guitar Shorty has put out another excellent blues album, his third for Black Top Records, isn't a big surprise. This guy is one of my favorite blues cats, especially to catch in person. The astonishing thing is that Guitar Shorty, who constantly amazes audiences around the world with his stinging blues guitar and energetic stage gymnastics, hasn't achieved his due recognition in the music business. This man's music is accessible to the masses, and I've witnessed him winning over both blues lovers and non-blues fans with every live performance.

Roll Over, Baby does an excellent job of capturing the energy and enthusiasm of a "live" Guitar Shorty concert in the dozen studio recordings. He's backed on most cuts by several of Black Top's stable of New Orleans session players, but Shorty's L.A.-based Central Avenue Band also provides accompaniment on two numbers.

This disc is stamped with the unique creativity of the eccentric blues singer Swamp Dogg, who wrote four of the songs found here. One of those is the powerful opening cut, "I Want To Report A Crime," which details a crime against the writer's heart. It's a great start to a very good CD.

The title cut is another Swamp Dogg original, the bawdy "Roll Over, Baby." One of the problems with originality in blues composition today is that too many of these types of songs rely on the same phrasings and underlying beat; in other words, they all sound like some derivation of "Down Home Blues." Not so with this tune ... it's got a fresh sound that will have you grinning and singing along.

"Sugar Wugar" is classic Guitar Shorty, with his high, trembling guitar chords which always wind up exploding into another impressive run. Shorty is at his best on a good slow blues, like "You're A Troublemaker," which features nice B-3 work from David Torkanowsky, or the very heavy "I Wonder Who's Sleeping In My Bed."

Guitarheads should really dig the instrumental "Let's Get Close," which exudes a heavy dose of six-string testosterone.

A touc of variety is added with another Swamp Dogg novelty tune, "The Porkchop Song." This one's got a nice New Orleans second-line sound accented by Rick Trolsen's trombone playing. Another favorite is the energetic blues shuffle "I'm Going Back To Houston."

The disc then closes with an extended version of  "Hey Joe," a staple of Shorty's live shows. It should be noted that a young Guitar Shorty was a big influence on Jimi Hendrix's style, so this tribute is a nice way of ending an excellent album.

If you're not yet familiar with the music of Guitar Shorty, get this album. And, by all means, catch his act in person. Perhaps then I'll no longer have to label anything he does as a "surprise."

- Bill Mitchell

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