Snooky Pryor
Mind Your Own Business
Antone's/Discovery 74708
If you're going to do a compact disc of hard-boiled '50s-style blues harmonica, who better as wheelman than Snooky Pryor, whose early outings on JOB and Planet were among the very first post-war blues records?

Amazingly vigorous for a man in his mid-'70s, Pryor sings well and wrings a wry, tart sound from his harmonica that hearkens to Sonny Boy #2. He also uses a vocal tremolo and other voice inflections like Sonny Boy's, and at times sounds like another of his old pals, Homesick James. But he's his own man, at the helm of a guitar, bass, piano and drum band that stays in the traditional mode that befits this artist.

There are shuffles aplenty (arguably too aplenty), and, as always, Pryor recycles a lot of oft-heard lyrics. But on the slow blues "No More Monkey Business," he sounds so menacing about his plans with his .44, no one's likely to call him about lifting some lines from Tin Pan Alley. This cut also has some real greasy slide guitar work from Derek O'Brien, who plays as impeccably as he did on Antone's first two Pryor discs.

Other good cuts include the stop-time "Good or Bad Times" and "I'm So Glad," the latter not the Skip James song but one of those uni-chordal mantras rock bands can't seem to ever do well but are essayed effectively by true-life mantra-masters like Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Pryor. His melodic singing keeps it from becoming a dirge, as do some well-placed snare accents from drummer Ted Harvey. Thumbs up to Stu Sullivan, a producer who really knows how to get a good drum sound out of a session. Pryor sings with considerable fervor on this song: plainly he enjoyed cutting it.

The veteran bluesman's other Antone's CDs are Too Cool to Move (1991) and 1992's In This Mess Up to My Chest. This latest item is quite good, but so similar to the other two that fans who own them might be wary of taking a third helping.

-- Tim Schuller

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Boulder, CO, USA.