One of the blues' most explosive guitarists is back with an equally explosive album after almost four years of recording silence. Guitar Shorty is his name and searing guitar pyrotechnics is his game. This veteran, entering his sixth decade in the business, shows no signs of slowing down with his latest release I Go Wild! (Evidence). His last few recordings have undoubtedly been quite good but failed to completely capture the red hot heat of his trademark live performances like this one so amicably does. If you're looking for originals then look elsewhere because all you will find here in that department is the powerful closing instrumental number "The Netherlands," which may prompt you to want to count how many fingers this guy actually has. Overall, I Go Wild! is a very hard edged blues album that takes no prisoners by grabbing your attention immediately with the opening funky number "Loosen Up," which sets the tone and pace for the other 12 selections. "Maybe She'll Miss Me" is a pleasing shuffle set against the backdrop of the familiar jilted lover scenario, while "If You Can't Lie No Better" examines the subject of varying from the truth and getting caught red handed. "Just Warming Up" slows the pace of things just a bit with a slightly slow blues approach. It's aptly titled due to the following piece which happens to be the Peter Wolf-penned title tune that is an all-out funk attack permeated with Shorty's growling vocals and piercing solos which is also at the forefront of "Don't Stop (I Just Started)." Two covers that you might want to give an extra close listen to due to their excellent arrangements are Steve Winwood's "One And Only Man" and Willie Dixon's "Put It All In There." Backing Shorty is the tight quartet of Chris Hayes on rhythm guitar, Glenn Letsch on bass, and the fabulous greasy B3 work courtesy of session warrior Jimmy Pugh. On drums, additional rhythm guitar, sax and keyboards, along with wearing the producers hat for this superb effort, is Scott Mathews. If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing Guitar Shorty either in person or recorded you owe it to yourself to do so, as this gentleman is a very classy and fun act. Lay your hands on this one ASAP!
After a brief recording stint in Chicago with some of that town's finest veteran players, Paul deLay reunites with his own outfit for Heavy Rotation (Evidence). While its title and the tongue in cheek number, "It Ain't Easy Being Big," pokes a little self fun at his girth, the rest of this super collection is some very serious blues. deLay is as superior a harp player as there is out there today, tapping into both the diatonic and chromatic harp played through his own invention "the space case," which at times has his harp taking on tones and sounds that you wouldn't think possible from a harmonica. A prime example is the Cajun spiced "Rainey Marie," that finds deLay's harp emulating a squeeze box. As has become customary from Paul, his songwriting is infused with a reflection of not only personal experiences but social commentary such as "Bess and Ernie's Rib Joint," a slow-dance ballad telling the story of a small independent business' demise. The fast paced rumba beat of the album's opener "Over Money" could have easily been taken from a slice of anyone's daily life, but especially from anyone who has ever tried to making a living playing music. "In The Pocket" is a jazzy swinging number that features the smoky sax of Dan Fincher, whose playing offers not only a counterpoint to deLay's harp licks but compliments it as well throughout the album's 14 originals. Funky blues has always dominated this band's sound in the past, and the selections here stay within that mold with four tunes standing head and shoulders above the rest: "So Near," "Givin' Up The Body," "Wealthy Man" and the instrumental "Jimmy Jones." Paul deLay is one of the most original bluesman you can find recording today, and Heavy Rotation joins the ranks of the rest of his fine recordings as possibly one of his best works to date.
One of the most surprising releases, that in this writer's opinion every serious fan of acoustic blues can't and shouldn't live without is Blues Like Midnight (Blue Wave). It comes from a very unlikely and unusual source in the form of one of the founders of the British Blues Boom of the '60s and the leader of Savoy Brown for the past three decades, Kim Simmonds. Blues Like Midnight is actually his second solo outing. The first was 1997's Solitaire (Blue Wave), and is as fine a modern acoustic recording to be found these days that money can buy. Kim, unfortunately, has always had to bear the label of the rock/blues genre, but not this time, folks. This is a bona fide blues record of the finest kind. 12 of the 13 numbers are original compositions, with a fantastic reworking of the title tune from the pen of Jimmie Rodgers being the lone cover. Other than the one or two musicians that add minimal accompaniment on a few tracks, it's all Kim Simmonds picking out licks that are filled with feeling and emotion along with his smooth and very effective vocals. "Cry Before She Goes" kicks things off on an upbeat note considering its subject matter. The liner notes are written by Kim himself and claim that the tunes contained within, whilst not autobiographical, do tell something of how he feels. This is very apparent on the album's second and third tracks, "Morning Light," a bluesy ballad, and "Tell The World," a number that features some superb slide work. Both pieces reflect a personal happiness experienced over the last decade. "Move To A Country Town" comes across as perhaps a longing wish from someone that has spent the better part of thirty years on the road playing gigs and is highlighted by some lovely mandolin picking by way of Dave Atkins. Kicking things up a notch is "Hold On Baby," with Kim being joined by bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm for a slightly fuller but still acoustic sound. Some fine guitar picking can be found on "My Woman Blues" and the album's first instrumental, "Rag Ah," where Simmonds splits his time between picking and sliding quite effectively. A familiar subject is explored on "Baby Says She's Leaving" that goes hand in hand with the following number, "Cry The Blues All Night." Wrapping things up is a slightly somber instrumental number, "Blues For Lonesome," a musical tribute to Kim's good friend and original member of Savoy Brown, "Lonesome" Dave Peverett, whom many of you might be familiar with as lead vocalist for Foghat. Kim Simmonds has never been considered a groundbreaking guitar player in either the blues or rock genre, which is really a shame because this man is a wealth of knowledge and technique. That expertise shines through like the sun at high noon on every tune on Blues Like Midnight. Highly recommended.
--- Steve Hinrichsen
Wyman's Blues Odyssey (Document) is a double-CD set compiled by the ex-Rolling Stone
bassist as a testimony to all of the blues musicians that influenced both Wyman and the Stones in general early in their career.
The CD set comes with an extremely informative booklet, with Wyman detailing how the blues influenced his music and giving a good background to each track. Wyman compiled the CDs and also wrote the sleeve notes, so he obviously knows his blues!
The tracks range from 1925 (Papa Charlie Jackson's "All I Want Is A Spoonful") all the way through to 1951 (Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" & B.B.King's "3 O'Clock Blues").
Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan," Robert Johnson's "Terraplane
Blues," Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" and John Lee Hooker's
"Boggie Chillen" are just a few of the classics included here. Serious collectors will probably have at least a few of the tracks on these CDs, but it's unlikely that they'll have all of them, so the set is still worth having.
For newcomers wanting to find out where the blues came from and how it influenced the rock
'n' roll era and then the '60s UK music scene, this CD set is essential listening.
Available with the CD set, or separately, is a superb hardback book written by Bill Wyman with the same title as the CD set, but
subtitled A Journey Into Music's Heart & Soul. The book starts off with a history of the slave trade and how the blues came from Africa to the New World, and runs right through to the present day with sections on artists such as Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Eric
Clapton, B.B.King and others. If you have the money available, buy the book and the CD and give yourself a whole year of musical enjoyment.
--- Terry Clear
With a combination of swing, blues and rock and roll, the Toronto-based Little Bobby and the Jumpstarts make an impressive recording debut with Tickets In The Glove Box (Indie Pool). Little Bobby Chorney started listening to Sonny Boy Williamson II in the mid-'80s, and soon became fixated with the sound of Chess studio recordings. With few prospects for an aspirant harmonica player, Bobby turned his attention to guitar where he could accompany himself singing and playing harp. Veteran harp player Kelly Hoppe first befriended and introduced Chorney to the Chicago style harmonica playing during Bobby's first year at the University at Windsor in 1987. Hoppe encouraged the young musician to listen to Little Walter and James Cotton; Little Bobby has never looked back. The Jumpstarts have been together just over four years and are entrenched in the post war blues era. Tickets In The Glove Box convey blues that is loyal to this period. While a number of guest artists donated their talent to this project, recent W.C. Handy Award recipient for comeback artist of the year, Mel Brown (who has worked with the likes of Bobby Blue Bland, T-Bone Walker, and, most recently, Snooky Pryor on Electro-fi Records) brings his years of experience to the recording. The maiden release is a collection of obscure standards and Chorney originals. "Don't Get Caught Looking," written by Little Bobby, is a straight-ahead shuffle that accentuates his fierce harp playing. Bobby sings through his harmonica microphone, giving the vocals a resonance and vintage sound. Chorney and company give the listener a bit of old school rhythm and blues with the Smiley Lewis classic "The Bells Are Ringing," which elicits a solid tenor solo by Chris Murphy. While Mel Brown tickles the ivories for the majority of the CD, "No Second Chances," another Chorney original, features Brown laying down some tasty guitar licks. Little Bobby pays homage to his idol, Sonny Boy Williamson II, with two tracks. The slow blues standard, "You Killing Me" and "Keep It To Yourself," are both done with respect, as they keep with the traditional arrangements. At just 33 years old, Little Bobby Chorney already sounds like a seasoned veteran. With traditional Chicago blues as his inspiration, Little Bobby and the Jumpstarts are keeping this music alive for the next generation to embrace.
--- Tony Engelhart
Curley Bridges' second Electro-Fi release, Mr. Rock 'n' Soul, is a return to the glory years of early rock and roll and R&B. Producer and label president Andrew Galloway does a fantastic job giving the disc a sound and feel from the '50s. It's a sound similar to what made Sam Phillips a household name. Only one original exists amongst 12 tracks which last 50 minutes. The covers are all choice cuts from the likes of Willie Dixon and Fats Domino. Born just outside Raleigh, North Carolina in 1934, Curley's career has spanned the blues, R&B and the dawning of rock 'n' roll. Exposed to boogie-woogie piano during a stint in the army, Bridges set out to master the instrument. In 1953, he helped Frank Motley Jr. create the Motley Crew. Bridges performed with the band for the next 13 years as a lead vocalist and pianist. In 1966, the band moved to Toronto where Bridges quit in pursuit of his own spotlight. Presently, he resides north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario. The CD jumpstarts with the title track where guitarist Chris Whiteley lays down a '50s rock and blues solo. There are plenty of Curley's barrelhouse rockin' keys on "Nobody Seems To Want Me." On his piano solo, he practically makes contact with all the ebonies and ivories. Meanwhile, the pulsating horns of Whiteley (trumpet) and Pat Carey (sax) lay a solid foundation. Whitely plays scintillating harp on "Little Red Rooster," while Bridges makes his 88s twinkle brighter than a Christmas tree. Only someone as suave and debonair as Mr. Bridges could competently deliver "You're The One" in the 21st century. By definition, "What Am I Living For," is a classic. Look for it to appear in Webster's newest dictionary. Things conclude with a brilliant version of "Mo-Jo Re:Worked." You will recognize the words but the arrangement is completely different. This CD will not have to wait 20 years to be considered a classic. It achieved that status on the very day it was released. The powerhouse of Bridges shows him to be a titan, while his backing musicians including Bucky Berger (drums), Victor Bateman (acoustic bass) and Chris' eldest son, Dan Whiteley (guitar), expose their expertise. Throughout, Bridges' stompin' piano work is matched by Chris' triple threat. In fact, this disc might do as much for Chris Whiteley's career as for that of Curley. Somehow the brilliance of Bridges has long been overlooked. Thanks to this baffling release, he will forever be known as Mr. Rock 'n' Soul. For CDs, booking and information, write to: Electro-Fi Records, PO Box 191, LaSalle Station, Niagara Falls, NY 14304 Tel (416) 251-3036. E-mail: email@example.com, website: www.electrofi.com.
--- Tim Holek
Luckily, I was a good boy this year, so Santa left some good blues in my stocking. This year, he was in a swamp blues mood, so the emphasis was on Excello Records, which suited me just fine (like I'm going to argue with St. Nick, right?). Hip-O Records has been steadily reissuing Best of… compilations from the Excello catalogs for the last four years. Noteworthy items from this project have been the excellent four volume House Rockin' & Hip Shakin' series and the Excello Records Story (also four volumes). Two noteworthy Hip-O reissues, from a few years back, found their way into my stocking. The Best of Slim Harpo is exactly that, 16 of his greatest tracks. Slim Harpo is, pardon the expression, the King Bee of swamp blues, as least as far as mainstream success went. If you're a blues fan, you're probably familiar with most of these cuts ("Rainin' In My Heart," "I'm a King Bee," "Blues Hangover," "Te Ni Nee Ni Nu," and "Baby, Scratch My Back"), either as performed by Slim or as covered by other artists. This is a fine starter disc for anyone who doesn't own any Slim Harpo. The second disc, The Best of Lightnin' Slim was reviewed a couple of years ago by Bill Mitchell, and I can add nothing to his review other than to say that Lightnin Slim's style of swamp blues (dark and moody) was the antithesis of Slim Harpo's (which made Jimmy Reed seem laid-back). The combination of Lightnin's fairly rudimentary guitar and raw vocals with Lazy Lester's infectious harmonica made for stunning listening. If you must only have two swamp blues CDs, these two discs are absolutely essential. That brings me to the third item in my stocking. It's been four years since Lazy Lester, who is the sole survivor of the Excello swamp blues sound still actively recording, released an album, the exceptional All Over You, so a new one was overdue. Happily, Lester has remedied that with the release of Blues Stop Knockin' (Texas Music Group/Antone's). It's more of the same formula, with remakes of Excello classics (Lonesome Sundown's "Gonna Stick To You Baby," Slim Harpo's "I'm Your Breadmaker, Baby," Lester's own scorching instrumental, "Ponderosa Stomp"), a Jimmy Reed cover ("I Love You Baby"), and even a few wild cards thrown in (a rocking cover of Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya" and an acoustic reading of Little Brother Montgomery's "No Special Rider," featuring Lester on guitar). I could listen to this stuff all night long. Lester's vocals are as relaxed as ever (if he were any more relaxed, he would be horizontal); maybe a little grainier with age, but his harmonica work is still as energetic as ever. The backing musicians include guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and Derek O'Brien (who also produced and captures that atmospheric Excello sound perfectly), drummer Mike Buck, pianist Riley Osbourn, and bassist Speedy Sparks. Guest musicians include guitarist Sue Foley, bassist Sarah Brown, and pianist Gene Taylor (on the moody closer "Sad City Blues"). Needless to say, they provide outstanding support. This is a release that slipped in under the radar this fall, so you may have missed it. Go back and check this one out, and hope that Hip-O will reissue a collection of Lester's great Excello sides soon.
Based in Denmark, Lightnin' Moe and the Peace Disturbers, play the blues the way it used to be played, before the influences of rock guitar began permeating new releases. These talented musicians are surprisingly versatile and are comfortable playing in numerous blues styles, especially the Chicago blues, Texas shuffles, New Orleans blues, and even swamp blues. It goes without saying that I was pleasantly surprised when I gave their latest disc, Things Go My Way (Cope Records), a spin. Frontman Morten "Lightnin' Moe" Stenbaek is a charismatic singer and a great harmonica player. He also wrote nine of the 16 tracks, including the powerful title cut, the swampy "Cool Daddy O's," the shuffle "Walking On Thin Ice" and the swinging "Let Me Prove." The band's choice of covers, which includes two Guitar Slim tracks, Sam Myer's "Sleepin' In The Ground," and a trio of Chicago standards (Eddie Boyd's "Third Degree," Junior Wells' "Snatch It Back" and Magic Sam's "Things Gonna Be Alright") are solid and reverential. The band, particularly guitarist Kasper "Lefty" Vegebrg, who is a real find, and the propulsive rhythm section of Thomas Nitschke and Tim "Jumpfoot" Petersen are outstanding. Peter Lapiki contributes solid piano, and the sax section (Troels Mygin - tenor, Erick Stengaard - baritone) is very lively as well. Above all, I have enjoyed listening to the joy and passion that these guys bring to their music and I think that you will, too. It is available at www.coperecords.com.
One of the most prolific Chicago bluesmen ever was Peter Chatman, better known as Memphis Slim. In a career that spanned six decades, Slim was a model of consistency, with his thunderous piano and his deep polished vocals. He was also a fine lyricist. Among his songs were "Mother Earth," "Messin' Around (With the Blues)," "Lend Me Your Love," and the classic "Everyday I Have the Blues" (recorded by Slim as "Nobody Loves Me"), which became a staple in several artists' repertoire, including Count Basie singer Joe Williams, Lowell Fulson, and B.B. King. He recorded with such labels as Okeh, RCA/Bluebird, United, Chess, Candid, Prestige, and Smithsonian over the years. However, sometimes his recordings suffered, due to his productivity, and they often sounded repetitive. Slim solved that problem in the early 50's by recruiting his first fulltime guitarist, Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Though Murphy is better known now for his role in the two Blues Brothers movies and with the touring band, it should be known that, in the '50s, he was a groundbreaking guitarist who was years ahead of his time. Until he heard Murphy, Slim never had, or wanted, a guitarist in his band. But Murphy's jazz-influenced riffing was the perfect compliment to Slim's urban sophistication and lifted Slim's mid '50s/early '60s recordings for United and Veejay to another level. A recent reissue of a session in 1961 for Strand Records, I'll Just Keep On Singing the Blues (32 Jazz), finds Slim and Murphy near the end of their partnership, shortly before Slim moved to Europe for good. Some highlights include the opener, "Lonesome," "Cold Blooded Woman" (a takeoff on "Five Long Years," with some dazzling fretwork from Murphy), a Creole approach to "Let The Good Times Roll," and the title cut, which should be on every true blues band's set list. Slim's vocals are solid, as is his work on the keys. Murphy is nothing short of astonishing. Sadly, after Slim's move to France (where opportunities to record and perform were much better at the time), his collaborations with Murphy were few and far between, although they did reunite for a nice album on Antone's shortly before Slim's death in 1988. This is a little-heard masterpiece that is worth finding.
--- Graham Clarke
I have a fond spot in my heart for Larry Davis' first album for Rooster Blues, Funny Stuff. Originally released in 1982, the vinyl version of this excellent album was the first freebie I received when I hosted a blues radio show in 1983. The Arkansas guitar slinger was teamed with a group of top-notch St. Louis musicians, including Oliver Sain, Billy Gayles and legendary pianist Johnnie Johnson. Now reissued on CD, Funny Stuff sounds as fresh and invigorating as it did nearly 20 years ago, with Davis' stinging Texas-style guitar meshing well with the solid rhythm section and horns. The result is an album that belongs in every blues fan's collection. Every cut is solid, starting with the funky, catchy mid-tempo title cut and moving on to the slow original blues "Teardrops," (with tasteful piano accompaniment by Johnson). Davis then turns to his first cover song with a version of the jumpin' Texas shuffle "Next Time You See Me," done here in a slower tempo than usual. Davis was frequently called "Totsy," and an instrumental by that name shows some splendid guitar playing. The overall theme of the album seems to be centered around Davis' problems with the opposite sex, and he brings that home near the end with the slow, soulful blues, "Walk Out Like A Lady," the somewhat chauvinistic advice from a father, "Find 'Em, Fool 'Em & Forget 'Em" and the closing number, another slow blues with passionate, pleading vocals, "Got To Be Some Changes Made." Larry Davis was recorded too infrequently during his career before the originator of the classic "Texas Flood" died of cancer in 1994; this was, in my opinion, his best album.
Another Rooster Blues reissue, Flimdoozie, comes from long-time Chicago guitarist Eddy Clearwater. Originally released in 1986, Flimdoozie contained only eight cuts and no unissued songs have been added. But it's a solid 40+ minutes of blues and rock 'n' roll. My favorite cut is the title number, a great soulful dance tune is the style of Chi-town artists like Major Lance and J.J. Jackson. It'll certainly fill the dance floor at your next party. Chicago harmonica ace Sugar Blue guests on the blues shuffle "Sugar Baby," playing his usual nasty harp. While Clearwater has always been a big fan (and sometimes imitator) of Chuck Berry, I've always believed that he is at his best on guitar when playing a slow blues. Flimdoozie contains two classic examples, a medley of "Black Night - Falling Down Heavy," and the topical "IRS Man," which I used to play on the radio every year around income tax time. Another good original from Clearwater's pen is the uptempo, drivin' shuffle "Sail The Ship." Flimdoozie is one of the best examples of this fine artist's work.
MCA continues their ongoing re-packaging of the priceless gems from their vault of Chess and Duke/Peacock classic blues recordings. The Anthology presents 50 timeless cuts from singer Bobby "Blue" Bland in a double-CD set. The songs are ordered chronologically from 1952 up to 1976. Most were released on Duke Records, with a few of the later sides originally coming out on ABC or Dunhill. All of the big hits are here, and they're too numerous to mention. Most serious blues collectors already have everything included on The Anthology, but for a novice wanting to learn more about this seminal blues/soul singer, this is an excellent place to start.
The same applies to another double-CD set, also called The Anthology, from the great Muddy Waters. Many of the greatest blues songs ever recorded grace this collection, covering the years that Muddy recorded for Chess from 1947 until 1972. I often wonder why MCA continually re-packages these same songs by artists like Bland and Waters. But if that's what it takes to get the music back in the stores and in front of a new audience, then I'm all for it. Just listening to the wonderful "I Just Want To Make Love To You" one more time helps me remember why I love this music so much.
Chess Records made two ill-fated attempts in the late 1960s, the albums Electric Mud and Brass and the Blues, to introduce Muddy Waters to a new audience. Teaming Waters with some of the best-known rock musicians of the day in 1969 in a traditional blues setting was much more artistically successful, and the result of three days of recording sessions and a live concert was captured in Fathers and Sons. Bringing along his regular pianist Otis Spann, Muddy joined Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Buddy Miles for the 14 studio cuts and six live recordings. Most of the 20 cuts were either Muddy Waters or Willie Dixon compositions, and none of the songs are duplicated between the studio and live sessions. Paul Butterfield sounds the siren call with his harmonica at the beginning of the first studio cut, "All Aboard," signaling the listener to get on board for a fun ride. I had forgotten how good Butterfield was on his instrument until listening to this song one more time. Also not to be missed is Bloomfield's guitar solo on "Walking Thru The Park." Spann is at his best on the rollicking studio version of "Sugar Sweet." The live, extended version of "Long Distance Call" is worth the price of admission alone, as Muddy's impassioned vocals take this song to an even higher level than any previous studio recording. As a bonus, there are now four previously-unissued studio cuts. Classic blues, not as essential as The Anthology, but still a good piece of the Muddy Waters blues library.
Another very important reissue comes from the man who was known as the godfather of British blues, John Mayall. The Turning Point (Polydor) was originally released in 1969, capturing a live concert by Mayall at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in New York City. This album is essential if for no other reason than it contains Mayall's blues/rock classic "Room To Move." To the best of my knowledge, this song was never recorded in the studio, so this is the version that's been played on AOR radio for the last 25 or so years. Another highlight is the pleasant country blues tribute to J.B. Lenoir, "I'm Gonna Fight For You J.B.," Mayall's second song written about the late Chicago bluesman. "So Hard To Share" is a jazzy number with excellent saxophone work from Johnny Almond. This re-release adds three bonus cuts from the concert, with the best being a good hokum-style blues, "Don't Waste My Time." This one's essential.
Here & There: The Uncollected B.B. King (Hip-O) gathers a variety of songs from B.B. King that have either appeared on other artists' albums or have been previously unreleased. This isn't an essential B.B. album, but a nice addition to his vast discography. The opening jazzy number, "Caught A Touch Of Your Love," finds King helping out Grover Washington, Jr. on the latter's 1987 album, Strawberry Moon. A high point on this album is the guitar showdown with Albert Collins on the instrumental "Frosty," originally released on Collins Mix: The Best of Albert Collins. King plays a nice downhome shuffle on "Monday Morning Blues," which is from, of all places, the soundtrack to Garfield: Am I Cool Or What?. The best cut, in my opinion, is the gospel-ish version of "T'ain't Nobody's Bizness (If I Do)," taken from The King Of Comedy soundtrack. There's also a duet with Willie Nelson from his Milk Cow Blues album, with B.B. playing fine guitar over a funky bass beat put down by some of Austin, Texas' best session players on "The Thrill Is Gone." The album closes with the tight, big band sound of "Stormy Monday Blues," recorded with The GRP All Star Big Band on their 1994 disc. Here & There: The Uncollected B.B. King is a satisfying mix.
Virginia guitarist Danny Morris, formerly of the Nighthawks, has moved into more into a "surf guitar" direction. But he hasn't forgotten his blues roots, and is now kind of a cross between Dick Dale, Chuck Berry and Otis Rush. Morris' latest, The Golden Prize (New Moon Music), starts to lean into more of a pop sound, but is a fun listen, especially if you're not locked into a 'blues only' mode. The CD opens with a number that I could swear was coming from an early Blasters album, "Twistin' Kristin," but this frantic rocker is an original composition. The hottest numbers are a pair of songs penned by Morris, the smokin' blues guitar instrumental "Arthur's Boogie," and the slide-infused blues of "Stop Teasing Me," with hot sax from Jimmy Carpenter. Obviously not wanting to be classified into any one genre, Morris does a tasteful instrumental version of "I Only Have Eyes For You." For even more variety, there's a slight Caribbean influence to the hook-laden original "No One Knows Virginia." Morris' love for surf guitar comes out on two great instrumentals, "Flight School" and "Pipeline." If you appreciate good guitar in this style, then don't miss his work here. He also adds a bit of the surf to an instrumental version of the Beatles' "Please, Please Me" ... pretty darn cool. The Golden Prize is a worthy representation of the work of a guitarist who deserves to be better known ... check it out.
--- Bill Mitchell
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Revised: December 31, 2001 - Version 1.00
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