Tab Benoit
Live: Swampland Jam
Justice 1204
Live: Swampland Jam captures Tab Benoit, aided by Louisiana blues stalwarts Raful Neal, Henry Gray, Chubby Carrier, Tabby Thomas and Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, playing to an enthusiastic and appreciative home crowd. Its sweaty, smoke-filled, bar-room ambience might make you wish you had actually been there to appreciate it more.

The disc opens, fast and furious, with a great one-two punch: the funky stomp of "Let Love Take Control" followed by the madly swingin' zydeco romp, "Ain't Gonna Do It." Benoit's lead work is lean and mean, with tasty rhythm fills that frame his gritty vocals over the tightly focused rhythm section of Doug Therrien and Allyn Robinson. But after a lively solo finger-picking rendition of "Moon Coming Over the Hill," a series of mid-tempo shuffles and slow-burn blues workouts slow the momentum considerably.

Chubby Carrier's spot on Clifton Chenier's "Hot Tamale Baby" manages to light a fire under Benoit, who responds with snappy tempo and liquid fretwork. But, strangely enough, the other guest appearances don't help out that much. Albert Collins' "Too Many Dishes" is rendered efficiently, with Henry Gray providing fine piano work, but it still lacks spark, just as Neal's harmonica doesn't raise the energy level of "Garbage Man." Benoit's duet with Sansone (on harmonica) on the John Lee Hooker classic "Crawling Kingsnake" features fine interplay, while Sansone's accordion work on "Louisiana Style" helps flesh out the tune but fails to ignite it.

All in all, a solid effort, but just shy of transcendent; maybe all the guest artists should have been given more room to blow.

-- Jon Martinez

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