Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers
That’s What They Want
Black Top 1140
Any creative entity that’s prolific will do a dud once in a while, you’d think. But here’s another good album from Anson/Sam, who’ve done a good one every two or so years since they first teamed in 1984. This 13-cut set isn’t with their road band (the Rockets) but with accompanists who provide much the same sort of strong, small-combo backing.
Myers sure sounds fit! One of the world’s great vocalists in the pure-blues mode, he’s heard here on straight-up blues ("Meanest Woman") and surprises ("Monkey Around"). The latter addresses anthropoidal humor and was funny by Delbert McClinton (its co-author), but it is downright hilarious coming from stately Sam. It also has head-clearing, chug-along rhythm. Another cooker is the reprisal of Eddie Bo’s "Oh Oh," lively and rhythmic, with youthful-sounding singing from Sam, and a grabby guitar hook from Anson.
The guitarist penned "Mudslide" in the vein of those great instrumental 45 sides Albert Collins and Freddie King used to do. Fat-sounding B-3 from Kev McKendree bolsters Anson’s fiery fret work here. Anson and McKendree are really in tandem on "I Don’t Want You Cuttin’ Off Your Hair" (first cut by B.B. King for Bluesway in 1966), which features two eloquent but hot guitar choruses. Again, Sam shines. His potent pipes are perfect for this funny (but not jokey!) lyric. He does this song’s B.B. King-type falsetto yowls just as confidently as the rib-rattling baritone he ends lines with on a Jimmy Nelson gem, "Last Time Around."
Sam blows harp on fewer selections than on prior outings but certainly delivers the harmonica goods on Willie Dixon’s blues-rhumba "I Don’t Play" and his own "Don’t Quit the One You Love for Me." The latter is as about as no-shuck a blues as you’ll find, with a chunka-chunka beat, a ramblin’ man lyric, and fine musicianship. (No solo from Anson here — there are two each from McKendree on piano and Sam.) There’s quirky timing on "I’m Shaking" but everyone’s right in the pocket, and Anson steps briefly out of character to play some six-string bass.
Anson and Sam have exemplary reps in bluesland, and That’s What They Want is yet more proof why.
— Tim Schuller