The Blues Just Stay the Same
Burton is an exceptional songwriter with the indispensable ability to paint vivid word pictures: "By the time I reached the city limits/He was already there/Before I crossed the county line/Your legs were in the air" comes from "How Could I Be Such a Fool." He can also spin you on your heels with a trenchant line like "I went to Chicago on a lark/They had turned the blues into a theme park" in an otherwise innocuous song ("Good Idea at the Time"), or put crackheads in poetic perspective: "Sun comes up, sun goes down/It doesn't matter if you're not around" ("Pipe Dream"). And on a haunting ode to the blues ("The Blues Just Stay the Same") Burton waxes: "Heartache and misfortune are seldom tame/They present themselves to you by many different names/But the blues, yes, the blues just stay the same."
It is primarily as a guitarist that Larry Burton has earned his keep, and his playing leaves no mystery why he has worked steady for many years. He can rock as hard as any teen wonder (but with the taste and maturity of a man) or slow down to a heart-stopping, out-of-phase electric slide, as he does on the shimmering instrumental "Delta Sundown." The backing is adequate if nondescript, highlighted by Kurt Bislin's overamplified harp work. Overall, The Blues Just Stay the Same is a very fine effort marred only by Burton's limited vocal ability. Singing in key would help, for starters.
-- Jack Oudiz