Homesick James
Words of Wisdom
Icehouse P2 50691
Whenever a blues performer is still around who is rooted in the past and the late greats, it is worth paying attention to. Thank heaven producer and player Fred James has found a way to resuscitate the recording career of slide guitarist Homesick James while the aging bluesman is still with us. Much like Homesick's earlier sets with James at the helm, Juanita and Sweet Home Tennessee, the backing band is tight but restrained enough to make the sessions work well with Homesick's rougher edges and the material he performs.

Seven of the twelve cuts are Homesick's, but his ability to put emotion into cover material such as Little Walter's "Last Night" (which features some great harp playing by Billy C. Farlow) or on his cousin Elmore's "12 Year Old Boy," it is not only a tribute to them but a reminder that he's a blues survivor.

Yet, it is his own material that succeeds best. With a voice that half pleads, half cries, Homesick makes us feel the heartache he sings about in "Tell Me Baby" and My Baby's Gone" is real. He still does some sizzling slide at several junctures, and while Words of Wisdom may not match some of Homesick's early glory, it definitely captures a fire that's still burning.

-- John Koetzner

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.