Blues Bytes

February 2003

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What's New

Lou PrideThe review of Lou Pride's Words Of Caution (Severn Records) sort of slipped through the cracks, and I must say that it was one of 2002's better releases. Lou Pride has always been a favorite of mine dating back to his 1990 Curtom LP titled Gone Bad Again . It wasn't until 1995, when he reappeared with a fine release on the WMB label, that his career appeared to be resurrected, producing an award-winning album, Twisting The Knife, in 1997 on the now defunct Ichiban label, and a fabulous CD on the Icehouse label which I raved about in the November 2000 issue of Blues Bytes. This new release is certainly the equal of those prior releases, and in some ways, exceeds them. On first listening, you are struck with the wonderful horn arrangements. I have learned that any release that has horns arranged and conducted by Willie Henderson will have a tasty sound that compliments the vocalist, and takes that release to a higher level than most. The CD opens with the title track "Words Of Caution," and follows with "Love Sometimes," both pleasant mid-tempo songs that were written by Pride. It is the third track though that just stops you in your tracks. Written by Delbert McClinton, "You Were Never Mine" is a ballad that will be the first choice by many radio stations, and a track you will play over and over again. Two tracks written by the underrated Roy C also appear here. "Don't Blame The Man" gives us an uptempo lift, as does the fun song "After The Party," which was recorded by Roy C as "After The Disco." This track translates to 2002/2003 quite nicely. I must comment on one more song, the slow burner "You are My Rainbow," co-written by Pride and Benjie Porecki. In the liner notes Pride says that this track is his personal praise to the Lord. It opens with Porecki's churchy organ, has choir style backing, and an absolutely breathtaking sax solo by Jerry Queene. Pride's voice never sounded better than here, and the emotion in his voice is a testament to his involvement in this project. If you are unfamiliar with Lou Pride, pick up a copy of this CD. If you are familiar with his work, you probably already own this fine release. It is with great anticipation that I look foward to his appearance at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix in March 2003. See you there.

Writing a review of a new James Carr reissue always brings a smile to my face. I have always felt that he was the greatest deep soul singer that ever lived (he passed away in January 2001). This reissue, You Got My Mind Messed Up (Kent - UK), is an exact duplication of his 1967 Goldwax album plus 12 additional tracks, several of which have been issued for the first time. One thing that strikes you immediately is the wonderful re-mastering that Ace has done here. I have heard this album in the form of a scratchy LP and then a poor sounding import CD. This is the second release from England this month that has been a revelation sound-wise. Most of the tracks are in fabulous stereo and show off Carr's incredible voice as never before. His signature song, "Dark End Of The Street," is here, and after dozens of other recordings of this song, Carr's version still reigns supreme. His "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man" is the epitome of angst, and a perfect place for the unsuspecting listener to start. "You Got My Mind Messed Up" is an ode to love and passion, and is about as emotional as a song can get. When Carr sings "...these ain't raindrops in my eyes, but they are tears...", you want to cry right along. Also included is his 1977 version of Joe Simon's mega hit from 1965, "My Adorable One." Carr's version yields nothing to Simon's equally powerful one. This release has 24 tracks of unsurpassed quality and emotion. The liner notes by the legendary writer Barney Hoskins are enlightening, and a tribute to the short life of this great singer. When Carr died at the age of 58, Ace Records (UK) was on the verge of buying Goldwax Records from founder/owner Quinton Clauch. Their reissue program kicked off with a compilation of all of Carr's Goldwax singles A sides and B sides. From its release in October 2001 until the end of the year, it became Ace's best seller of 2001. It was decided that the singles project would be followed by his two album releases on Goldwax as they were originally issued, each bolstered by the inclusion of originally un-issued bonus tracks. This is the first of those two albums and we now anxiously await the second. This is an essential purchase along with the singles CD. The songs never sounded better, and there will never be anyone else to ever sing these better. When the history of soul music is written, James Carr will get his due acknowledgement as the "Godfather of Deep Soul."

T-Bone WalkerWhile I suspect that the T-Bone Walker reissue, T-Bone Blues (Catfish Records), has many of the same tracks as the Rhino release reviewed by Graham Clarke in the January 2001 issue of Blues Bytes, I just wanted to pass along a positive note on this release and recommend its purchase to all who are fans of early T-Bone Walker and the smooth west coast sounds that Charles Brown and Johnny Moore & the Three Blazer were producing in the late '40s. This release contains an early performance by Walker, a 1940 session he recorded with the Les Hite Orchestra when he was only the vocalist. Frank Pasely was the guitarist on "T-Bone Blues." This contains many of the Black and White and Capitol releases he recorded in Hollywood in the mid to late '40s. Included are such T-Bone classics as "Mean Old World," "It's A Low Down Dirty Deal," "Call It Stormy Monday" (from September 1947) and the classic "T-Bone Shuffle," recorded in L.A. in November 1947. The musicians are virtually a who's who of the times, with the likes of Teddy Buckner, Lloyd Glenn, Willard McDaniels, Billy Hadnott and Freddie Slack appearing in the various bands from 1940-1947 covered here. One reason to purchase this one rather than some of the other earlier reissues is that the re-mastering here is impeccable. There is virtually no background and surface noise. A very worthy reissue.

--- Alan Shutro

Based out of Albany, New York, the George Boone Blues Band’s eight-cut debut disc, Stranger In My Hometown (Mr. Gee Music), is a well conceived, produced and performed calling card. Recently heard on Johnnie Marshall’s 98 Cents in the Bank (JSP), Boone has a powerful, though usually understated voice. He’s got the pipes, but doesn’t overwhelm or attempt to beat listeners into submission. He’s an equally adept guitarist with a penchant for loose jams. The groove set up on the opening title cut reminds of Tony Joe’s White’s “Polk Salad Annie,” strangely enough – and that’s a compliment from these quarters. He’s a soulful bluesman with an equally impressive and tight band, able to keep pace and compliment his guitar and vocals. The songs are cast out of the day to day. These are not formulaic clichés, but rather heartfelt monologues that grab. His “Meaning of the Blues” is from the classic mold, and “Somebody Just For Me” is a late night lament that most living, breathing souls can relate to. If this band hits the Midwest, I’m there.

Sammy Fender is a well traveled bluesman who has shared stages with the likes of Hound Dog Taylor, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, etc., etc. His aunt is Koko Taylor, and Magic Sam was a cousin. His bio also claims that he was an original member of the Impressions. His last recording was released 20 years ago. Blues Jam (Blue Baron) was recorded at Eddie Clearwater’s Reservation Blues at a Sunday night jam, though guitarist Ed Garcia appears to be the only guest sitting in. Given that the recording quality is less than stellar, the music remains pretty solid. Fender and his band (Sugar Baby, bass; Dona Oxford, keys; Baron, drums) work a set of originals and familiar tunes in “Going to New York,” “All Your Love,” “Got My Mojo Working,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” “Hey Bo Diddley” and the Impressions’ “It’s All Right.” They’re probably a treat in the flesh. Unfortunately, the poor quality detracts quite a bit from the music.

--- Mark E. Gallo 

Don NixYou may not recognize the name Don Nix. He is known best for the hits he wrote for others. Tunes such as "Palace Of The King," "Lucinda" and the legendary "Going Down" are all too familiar with anyone who has listened to rock radio over the past 25 years. Memphis may have spawned the dawn of rock and roll, but no Memphis music story is complete without mentioning Don Nix. His first recording in nine years, Going Down - The Songs of Don Nix (Evidence Music), has a country rock feel throughout its 50 minutes. As all tunes are Nix originals, it is only appropriate that he handles most vocals and co-produced the project. Overall the disc could be the soundtrack to That 70s Show. Most tracks have a sound of '70s Stones, '70s Clapton and '70s southern rock. This is ironic as seven of the songs were written for Freddie/Albert King and/or first recorded by them. "On The Road Again" has a lazy and relaxed rhythm. Susan Marshall and Jackie Johnson’s background vocals on "Right Where You Want Me" are pure bliss. The tune takes place at the crossroads where Memphis soul meets southern rock. "Lucinda" is a hot-rockin’, piano-pounding, cruising tune. Listeners are transplanted to late '60s/early '70s Muscle Shoals. On your maiden listen, the highly contagious beat of "One More Repossession" may be mistaken for the Eagles. "Plastic Flowers" is light-hearted but comes with a strong message. It preaches the powers of the real thing versus imitation. On "Same Old Blues," Steve Cropper proves himself to be a lurid blues guitarist. The song features the best blues guitar playing on the disc. Dan Penn and Bonnie Bramlett’s vocals are hypnotic. They vocally partner again for "Like A Road Leading Home," where extreme emotions exude. Penn’s chops are more raw than Nix’s, as heard on "Palace Of The King," with its supremo organ fills courtesy of Wynans, and ripping guitar of Audley Freed. Tony Joe White’s guitar sounds a lot like EC on "Going Back To Iuka." The song has an irresistible rhythm and the edgy harp of John Mayall. Fronted with Johnny Winter-esqe vocals, Nix’s most known anthem, "Going Down," contains a surplus of red-hot guest guitarists. Bobby Whitlock’s seismic organ pulsates tremors through your brain. You may balk at the sight of an ‘& Friends’ disc, but this is not your typical disjointed, doomed and slack special guests platter. Sure, a plethora of cohorts are present (most noticeable on vocals), but the truth is that the core band (Billy Crain/Jon Tiven guitar, Mike Duke piano, Reese Wynans organ, David Hood bass & Greg Morrow drums) does not require reinforcement. Evidence has long backed the underdog, underrated, unknown and generally forgotten artists. Like Jody Williams’ Return Of A Legend release, this Nix disc is also a piece of history. The CD’s strength lie in the songs, the musicians who play them, the lyrics and putting Nix in the limelight where he belongs. It leaves you thinking what Nix may have been able to achieve had he not lived in the excessive '70s, or at least resisted the era’s temptations. For further information, contact: Evidence Music Inc., 1110 E. Hector Street, Suite 392, Conshohocken, PA 19428 USA Tel: (800) 474-5131 Email:

Wintertime Blues (Evil Teen) is a scorching two-CD set that plays for two hours and 20 minutes. It was recorded live on December 22, 1999 in Asheville, NC at the 11th annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam benefiting Habitat For Humanity. Needless to say, the featured artists are heavy, southern rockers, but a few bluesmen appear, including Larry McCray and Little Milton. However; even they cannot tame the overpowering and thundering rock blasts from the stage. The only blues you will find here is found in the CD’s title. Edwin McCain kicks things off with his acoustic, alternative pop on "Beautiful Life." The tune carries a strong message about the world’s volatility. Haynes joins McCain for "Alive" and "I’ll Be," and proves that he can be equally effective in an unplugged environment. On his three tracks, Edwin’s vocals are honest yet reflect rebellion. Innovative guitarist Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks’ nephew) regularly jammed with the ABB as a teen. At the time of this recording, he had become a full-fledged member of the Allmans. Here, he leads his own group through numerous tracks. "Rastaman Chant" is an instrumental that combines rock and jazz but it drags on without direction. The exact opposite occurs on the catchy instrumental called "Chicken Strut." Jimmy Herring joins and adds his vocals and second lead guitar to "555 Lake." The fretboard strutting is impressive, but overall its "ABB wannabe" material that just doesn’t work. With the help of Col. Bruce Hampton and Susan Tedeschi, "Yield Not To Temptation/Turn On Your Lovelight" is Derek’s most impressive song. They lay down a mix of R&B and soul stirred up southern rock style. With her great looks, intense voice, diverse guitar playing and talented songwriting, Tedeschi shows she holds the future of roots rock on "Just Won’t Burn." The second (shorter and stronger) disc gets burning with the five-year reunion of Cry of Love. They storm through a couple heavy hitting numbers with their Steve Marriott-sounding singer. Had these guys been given more tracks, it would have been warmly welcomed. The remainder of the disc belongs to Warren Haynes’ aggressive Gov’t Mule. In the early '90s, Haynes was responsible for the resurrection of the ABB. By the mid-'90s he wanted to expand his horizons, so he quit and formed Gov’t Mule. This band has a far heavier and meaner sound than the ABB, as heard on "Bad Little Doggie." Former ABB-member, Johnny Neel, adds keyboards to provide fills that can’t be achieved with a power trio like the Mule. Few modern day rock guitarists can produce tones like Haynes does on the mighty ballad "Fallen Down." On "Devil Likes It Slow," Herring adds his guitar to the mix. The instrumental power rock song takes a major rhythm and timing shift halfway through. Bassist Allen Woody provides more than rhythm by adding to the song’s improvisation movement. Most of the evening’s artists gather for a concluding ensemble of Charles Brown’s timeless classic, "Merry Christmas Baby." The liner is loaded with pictures from the concert, but you won’t find any mention of the instruments played by the various musicians. Produced by Warren Haynes and dedicated to Allen Woody, this release could be hard to find. Evil Teen may not have a wide distribution. However; if you like your rock hard and your guitar cranking, then go and get some Wintertime Blues. For CDs, booking and information, contact: Evil Teen Records, PO Box 651 Village Station, New York, NY 10014-0651 USA Website:

Snooky PryorOh, to have been in the recording studio when a group of five seasoned and acclaimed musicians joined Snooky Pryor to celebrate his 80th birthday. Talkin’ Blues TV series film-maker, Mako Funasaka, was there. He captured some candid comments from the blues elite who participated in the Snooky Summit. Bob Stroger says he was "thrilled to partake," while Pinetop Perkins says he "love what Snooky do." With pride, Pryor mentions, "Mel (Brown) understands my ways and I understand his ways." Brown explains, "it’s a chance to talk to each other in music." Snooky sums it all up with this analogy, "its just like sitting down to a good meal." The sessions resulted in the release of a stomping and sweaty, unpolished disc called Snooky Pryor and His Mississippi Wrecking Crew (Electro-Fi Records). Ironically, bassman Stroger is from Missouri and drummer Willie Smith hails from Arkansas. This traditional, electric blues nirvana lasts an hour via 10 songs (six are Pryor originals). Mel Brown’s guitar is awesome --- as expected. ‘Big Eyes’ Smith pounds his skins while Pinetop incarnates the blues with his piano. Snooky’s voice is well-aged. It gives authentication to his blues and his hard life. At times he practically yells the lyrics with enthusiasm and excitement. He sings about his hardships on "School Days." It describes an existence that many listeners cannot and will not relate to. The tunes may not all be uptempo, but this is no pity party. On the other hand, the tracks may not be lively enough to retain a listener’s attention for a full hour. Most tunes are hearty jams, clocking in at more than six minutes each. Pryor’s sweet, amplified harp remains the focal point throughout. Still, having these five blues legends, plus special guest guitarist Jeff Healey, on the same recording is historic. No one tries to steal the show, they all know this is Snooky’s gig. Andrew Galloway has captured a style of blues that is quickly becoming a lost art form. 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:, Website:

--- Tim Holek

Blues fans have always wondered how different things might have been for the blues if Magic Sam had not tragically passed away over 30 years ago (from heart failure at the age of 32) just as he was getting recognized. All that most fans have ever had to listen to from him are his two masterful Delmark studio recordings along with a couple of collections of some outtakes and various odds and ends, a mid '60s set reissued on Evidence, various compilations of his earlier recordings for Cobra, Chief and Crash, and the occasional live album recorded by fans (one with Delmark and one out of print album from Black Top). Ironically, the club settings, where Magic Sam gained his first taste of fame for his electrifying sets, is where he is the least represented on disc. The previously released Delmark and Black Top live sets are powerful, but are marred by substandard sound. Delmark has released another set, titled Rockin’ Wild In Chicago, that adds to his sparse live catalog. This CD captures Sam during four different club appearances. The first set consists of eight songs from a performance at The Copacabana in October 1966, and features Sam with backing by Shakey Jake on harp and vocals on three tracks, Mac Thompson on bass, and Odie Payne Jr. on drums. The sound on this set is probably the weakest of the four, but it’s not bad enough to hide Sam’s incredible guitar work on Albert Collins’ “Tremble” and backing Shakey Jake’s vocal on “Call Me When You Need Me.” Though the set list is heavy on covers, Sam makes each song his own, with his quivering vocals or his stinging guitar. Next comes two songs apiece from two sets at the Alex Club, one from November 1963 and the other from February 1964. Sam is fronting a five-piece band on both sets. The sound on this set is better (one of the songs, “Looking Good,” appeared on the earlier Delmark live set on the LP, but not on the CD due to time constraints), and Sam sounds great on all of the songs here, which include covers of Otis Rush’s “Keep On Loving Me Baby,” Little Milton’s slow burner “I Found Me A New Love,” and “Got My Mojo Working”. The final set is from Mother Blues in 1968, and features Sam with unidentified bass and drums (probably Thompson and Payne, according to the liner notes). The sound here is the best of the four, and the trio threatens to blow the roof off the place. The songs featured are “I Don’t Want No Woman,” a minor key version of “Just A Little Bit,” Freddy King’s “Tore Down” (with some great guitar work), and the final cut, a dandy cover of Earl Hooker’s “Rockin’ Wild In Chicago.” The excellent liner notes, by noted writer/producer Dick Shurman, are very informative. This CD will make you wish that you had been there to experience Magic Sam in person. It also makes you wonder how great Sam, who would only be 65 today, would have been if he had lived.

--- Graham Clarke

If you have listened to Harry Manx’s first two albums for NorthernBlues, Dog My Cat and Wise and Otherwise, you already know that this is a man not to be bound within the confines of a single musical genre. If you mostly listen to the blues, you might not know who Kevin Breit is, but if you like eclectic jazz singers Holly Cole and Cassandra Wilson, then you already know all about Breit’s prowess and taste on guitar (acoustic and electric). The latest NorthernBlues release is an unlikely collaboration between these two stringed-instrument players, titled Jubilee. No, there is not much blues here. Save for a beautiful version of Sleepy John Estes’ “Diving Duck Blues,” nothing really qualifies as blues on this record. But between them, Manx and Breit play guitar (all sorts), banjo (normal and baritone), mandolin, mandola, mandocello, banjolin, cavaquinho and Mohan Veena, and since they are unaccompanied (save for producer David Travers-Smith doing percussion on two tracks), you get to hear every single last note, every string bending and caressing, every breath in the music. In short, this is the aural equivalent of a 10K diamond to a guitar (and other strings) fan. And who cares what this music is called? It may not be pure blues, but it sure has a lot of feeling. And check out the beautiful booklet, all grace and transparence, that goes with the music!).

--- Benoît Brière

In promoting the new album from Smokin' Joe Kubek and B'Nois King, Roadhouse Research (Blind Pig), press materials play up the contrast between Kubek's distorted rock-blues-rock guitar and King's more jazz-inflected tones. Well, it's there if you listen hard enough, but Kubek basically drowns King out most of the time. Faint whispers and occasional spotlighting of King just make Kubek sound overbearing, which is a real shame, because he's really not. Overbearing people turn off their bandstand partners and wash out of music long before they reach the stature of Smokin' Joe Kubek. He's just stuck in a role that doesn't really show him to best advantage here, sort of like Gulliver among the Lilliputians, wrecking their community through the innocent accident of his size. The record would probably sound better to listeners who were not trying to listen for B'Nois King.

The label touts Nick Curran as a hybrid of Little Richard and T-Bone Walker. I don't hear that in Doctor Velvet (Blind Pig), and I don't think I'd want to. In nature, most hybrids are sterile, and this album isn't sterile. It's vintage R & B, from the days when electric guitar was starting to take over song parts handled in bop, bash and swing by powerful tenor saxes or whole horn sections. It's very Big Joe Turner, very "Louis Prima sits in with Brian Setzer." The band's right there under Curran's '50s umbrella, providing a big, thumping sound that brings to mind (and feet) a period when the music, rather than the musicians themselves, gave parents nightmares. It's no wonder that Jimmie Vaughan wanted to guest on "Lonesome Whistle Blues" and "Midnite Hour." Not that the Fabulous Thunderbirds have ever sounded tired, but they have mellowed. Like some of our other favorite acts, they sometimes sound today as if they're on a permanent revival tour, just covering their own songs, and Curran still has all the fire the Thunderbirds had when they conquered Texas and a big chunk of the blues and blues rock world.

Somewhere between Cream and Led Zeppelin, there's Savoy Brown. Like Cream, this band has always been able to stretch out and jam, because they have a firm foundation in blues, thus imparting a structure strong enough to bear any quantity of sixteenth notes. Like Led Zeppelin, they freed themselves early on from the earthy narratives and brief song lengths of blues in favor of rock's "if it feels good, sing and play it" approach. Strange Dreams (Blind Pig) is "Oh, hell yeah" guitar rock, is what it is. It's free of any halfhearted attempts to be artsy, balanced or tasteful. It's Kim Simmonds, one of Brit-Rock's most underappreciated luminaries, with an obedient, high quality backing band. Simmonds is, by the way, the only original member of the group, but his vision and passion for the music that's contributed so much to rock, and steered so many people, including this reviewer, a bit closer to blues, is more than sufficient to make this and any future albums he wants to make great, real Savoy Brown releases. Ten songs, none spectacular, but none flawed in any way, either. All SOLID.

A whole album of blues instrumentals . . . who thought this would be a good idea? While experts quibble over exact numbers, few people think there are more than 14 blues songs. While examples of the songs differ in lyrics and key, they're limited in structural variety. Thus, without great lyrics, blues can't easily support itself. Well, Jimmy Thackery rises above this thinking and functions throughout Guitar (Blind Pig) as a high priest of tone, timing and dexterity. How do you find out how something works? You take it apart carefully, look at the separate pieces, and then put it back together, cleaning the components and improving the basic design, if possible. This record shows some of the separate components of the blues, and Thackery certainly polishes them, thus allowing listeners a rare perspective on America's music.

--- Arthur Shuey

Deltahead McDonald is a human jukebox of the original Delta blues style. On Blues On The Slide (Blues Religion Music), he performs acoustic blues songs of the folk blues masters: Robert Johnson ("Walkin' Blues" and "Come On In My Kitchen"), Charlie Patton ("Tom Rushen Blues"), Son House ("Empire State Express" and "Grinnin' In Your Face"), Blind Willie McTell ("World's Made a Change"), and more. Like the early recordings of John Lee Hooker, this is simply a solo performance of a man singing, playing guitar and stomping his foot for occasional percussion. The style is nothing like Australia and everything like the rural American south that it honors. The part that IS Australia is the Australian-made Beeton Brass Body Resonator Guitar (National Biscuit Cone) on which McDonald plays bottleneck slide. The baker's dozen of songs here are delivered in a patient and melodic style, brightly played by this lowlands master from down under. McDonald is justifiably proud that this is recorded in a live fashion, that is, with no overdubs. The lead track is "Evil On My Mind," which Johnny Winter did overdub. For more info,

The title of Shuggie Otis' In Session Information (RPM Productions) comes from the fact that this captures the funk guitarist in various sessions around the same time he recorded Inspiration Information. The explicit, earthy songs are sexual in the most direct way, if sometimes delivered metaphorically. This can be heard in the recording of "Doin' It" with Richard Berry and the recording of "Country Girl" with his father Johnny Otis. He also recorded "The Signifying Monkey" with Johnny Otis, and now we can compare that rural southern bandit to the "Stagger Lee" recently resurrected by Nick Cave. This lo-fi, visceral funk album also has a recording of "Louie, Louie," with the clearest lyrics this reviewer has heard. For more info,

--- Thomas Schulte

Crazy Kind Of Life (Blind Pig) is the name of Bill Perry’s latest collection of houserockin' blues, filled with gutsy guitar licks and gritty vocals that are sure to please. Perry wastes no time in getting down to business with some stinging slide, along with a few red hot harp licks from Chris O’Leary on the album’s fast shuffling opener, “Trouble In The Shotgun.” Perry’s songwriting talents shine on the album’s title cut, a mid-tempo number about life’s ups and downs, along with a dark piece entitled “Junkie,” which is a wake up call to an addict whose life has gotten away from him. “Too Hot” is a hip-shaking boogie that cooks from its opening bars and contains a wicked solo that is a joy. Co-producer Jimmy Vivino, who produced Perry’s last effort, Fire It Up (reviewed in Blues Bytes Feb. 2002) wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s 11 tracks is on hand once again on background vocals, guitar, piano and organ. His writing contributions, such as “500 Miles,” with its high energy pace and burning slide and harp riffs along with the slow blues of the suggestive “Honey Pie” and the honky tonk bop, coupled with Bill’s searing picking on “Can’t But My Love,” are three of the album’s best numbers. The lone instrumental, “Morning Spiritual,” has Perry slipping into a gospel overcoat for a beautiful tune entitled “Morning Spiritual,” that features some of Bill’s best fretwork. Former boss Richie Havens drops in to handle vocals and acoustic guitar on the disc's only cover, a stirring version of the The Rolling Stones “No Expectations,” that closes things out on a mellow note with its lush acoustic picking and strumming and country blues harp. Supporting Perry is pretty much the same lineup as his last album, with the aforementioned Vivino, David Bennett Cohen punching the black and whites, Rob Curtis massaging the skins, Frank Pagano pounding away on percussion and Tim Tindall plucking the bass, with Johnny B. Gayden sitting in on two tracks. Bill Perry is an artist to keep a close eye on as he continues to evolve as a songwriter. His guitar chops leave no doubt that he is going to make quite a bit of noise as a guitarist. His no nonsense approach to both his playing and his singing is both refreshing and exciting, and this album, like his last, leaves you wanting more. Give this cat a very long hard listen, as he is well worth your time.

--- Steve Hinrichsen

M.C. RecordsM.C. Records is the type of record label that should be embraced by music fans ... a true "mom and pop" company, scraping by and recording the music that they love. To celebrate its sixth anniversary, owner Mark Carpentieri proudly presents M.C. Records - The Best of - 1996-2002, a selection of 15 tracks from the label's 15 releases, plus a sneak preview of a Maria Muldaur / Tracy Nelson collaboration from an upcoming gospel tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. This latter number, "Up Above My Head," is a glorious pew-shaker, indicating that Shout Sister Shout is a collection to be eagerly anticipated. Carpentieri has taken care to choose a diverse selection of cuts so that this "Best of" collection flows nicely from artist to artist. The real keepers here are Kim Wilson's "Oh Baby," from the Grammy-nominated Smokin' Joint, the Wilson / Big Jack Johnson duo on "My Babe," the inspired pairing of Odetta and Dr. John on "Please Send Me Someone To Love," and a pair of R.L. Burnside cuts, "Hobo Blues" and "Can't Be Satisfied." Other artists represented on the collection are Big Jack Johnson & The Oilers (two songs), Philip Walker & The Big Band, Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, Sleepy LaBeef, Ann Rabson, Joanna Connor, and Wild Child Butler. Let's all hope that this CD is a big success, encouraging Carpentieri to keep on producing top-quality blues releases.

While you're out pounding the streets for independent releases, be sure to look REAL hard for the wonderful CD put out by Texas bluesman Hash Brown & The Browntones. Hash Brown is well known around the Lone Star state as one of the many hot guitar players from the Dallas / Fort Worth area. But on Have Some Fun! (Browntone Records), Brown strictly plays harmonica, and plays it quite well, I might add. He also capably handles all of the vocal chores on the album's 13 cuts. Brown (nee Brian Calway) makes sure that his guitar playing is not missed by lining up fellow hot shots Jon Moeller, Nick Curran and his young protégé Elliot Sowell to handle the guitar chores here. There's nothing real complicated about Have Some Fun!, no special hidden messages to be imparted. Instead, this album is just straight-ahead blues, played well and with lots of gusto and feeling. The real keeper, and one to which I will listen frequently, is the novelty jump blues "Poultry Queen Boogie." It'll have you clapping along throughout, and the line "...I'm hanging with the woman that I have eggs and poultry with every week..." will remain in your sub-conscious for years to come. The album opens with a slow Texas blues, "Blues For April Green," immediately showing that Brown is no slouch either vocally or on the harp. He also shows off some impressive harmonica chops on the Sam Myers slow blues "I've Got The Blues." The backing bands on both of the sessions captured here are solid ensembles; I especially liked Matt Farrell's piano work on the shuffle "The Woman I Love." Long live independent releases! Have Some Fun! is a good one --- look for it at or

Doyle Bramhall - Fitchburg StreetFor those of us who loved the first solo release from Doyle Bramhall, 1994's Bird Nest On The Ground, it's been much too long of a wait for the Austin drummer / singer / songwriter's second solo CD. Fitchburg Street (Yep Roc Records) is worth the wait. While a little short by today's standards with only 10 cuts, Fitchburg Street is a disc that will rank as one of the year's best. Bramhall is one of the best blue-eyed soul singers around, and he shows it on versions of classics like "I'd Rather Be (Blind, Crippled & Crazy)" and "That's How Strong My Love Is." Bramhall reprises one of his best-known compositions, "Life By The Drop," although this one's more electric and upbeat than the version done by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Bramhall also completely remakes Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do," giving the blues classic a more churchy sound thanks to the organ work of Riley Osbourn. Bramhall's more famous son, Doyle Bramhall II, plays guitar on four songs, including the opening mid-tempo shuffle, "Dimples." The CD ends with a pair of Howlin' Wolf numbers, "Forty Four" and "Sugar (Where You'd Get Your Sugar From)," as Bramhall shows his versatility with rawer, more resonant vocals. A tour of the U.S. accompanied the release of his 1994 album; let's hope Bramhall hits the road again in support of this disc.

--- Bill Mitchell

Early 2002 marked the time for the Rotterdam-based blues band, The Nervous Fellas, to record their third album, Nervous Breakdown. As I had not heard any of their previous material, I could not draw any comparisons, but this album was a very pleasant surprise. To start with a number of originals, always highly appreciated, are J. de Roos' authentic harmonica sounds in the dynamic "Reed Rocker," the energizing jungle beat of "Surtogo," in which drummer Rene Klein seems to be having the time of his life, and the highly contagious "Nervous Breakdown," a certified toe tapper. For covers, The Nervous Fellas chose lesser-known material by artists like Jerry McCain, Chuck Higgins and Cecil Gant. Louis Thomas Watts' "The Wolf Pack," is pleasantly crazy, with its poignant "wolf calls." My personal favorite is John Estes' "Whatcha Doin' ," a beautiful slide tune. Although quite a lot of tunes are going to appeal to the harmonica freaks, Arie Verhoef supplies more than solid fretwork, assisted by Andre Prins' no-nonsense bass lines. The album is dedicated to 'fella' musicians that departed this earth much to soon and were part of their musical growth. These guys know what the blues are supposed to sound like, played straight from the heart!!! For info: Nervous Breakdown / Big Beat Records / BBNF0102,

--- Bobtje Blues

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