Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones
I Need Time
JSP 278
I wouldn't call Dallas guitarist Jones a "singer," but his voice is great. "You just a DOGGONE DOG," he proclaims, with a bit of Rufus Thomas' comic charisma, on the funny "You're a Dog." And, as if to remind us not to take him (or the blues) too seriously, Jones laughs his way through "Big Leg, Heavy Bottom."

Technically speaking, Jones' first solo album -- he has backed Freddie King, Katie Webster and Charlie Musselwhite, among others -- isn't particularly dazzling or ground-breaking. His ideas have all been done before. "These Bills," a complaint about not having enough money, would sound bland and clichéd if Jones weren't trying so hard (and succeeding) to be your friend.

He's a competent, and occasionally great guitarist, plucking high-pitch notes on the finale, "Tribute to Freddie," with slow soul worthy of the subject matter. But the guitar playing isn't what makes the song so entertaining. Above the riffs, Jones talks about backing King, "a huge figure," and describing his mentor grinning, rocking from side to side and "playing with no mercy."

Jones confesses two important things in the song. He says he never got the chance to tell King how he felt about him, which is why he wrote the song. And he says he heard King play the melody behind "Tribute to Freddie" at least "a million times." Those kinds of revelations are why I Need Time works so well. We've heard these melodies a million times, but they always sound good when the singer has something heartfelt to say.

-- Steve Knopper

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