Blues Access Fall 1999
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New Releases

All CDs reviewed by the BLUES ACCESS editorial staff. Discs that have been given full reviews in this or previous issues of BLUES ACCESS are quoted with the reviewers initials in brackets.    Note: Be sure to send us two (2) copies of all new releases.

Red Rooster Pick     (†=Import)

Jake Andrews • Time to Burn

"Sizzles with youthful exuberance and bravado. The 18-year-old Austin guitarist/vocalist’s playing is steeped in the blues, but the songs are a blues/rock hybrid." [Durchholz] (Sire/Cello)

Danny Angel and Bo Galigher • Mind Reader

"Superior and tasteful support allows the Alabama-based musical partners to shine effortlessly throughout their abundance of well-crafted original songs. These guys have the goods." [Burke] (Vent)

Barrelhouse Chuck • Salute to Sunnyland Slim

It’s clear that the spirit of Sunnyland Slim lives on in Barrelhouse Chuck Goering. Maybe that’s why so many of the cream of Chicago’s sidemen are eager to play with him: S.P. Leary, Calvin Jones, Willie Smith and Billy Flynn are among the supporting cast. Salute encompasses the best parts of the Chicago blues piano tradition for the past 50 years or so. (Blue Loon)

Johnnie Bassett & the Blues Insurgents • Party My Blues Away

Detroit mainstay with booming voice plays both guitar and harp extremely well and has a tight and swingin’ back-up band to boot, kicked into high gear by a tight horn section. Produced by Ron Levy, who contributed the fine closer "Send You Thru 2000." (Cannonball)

Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers • Zydeco Giant

The reliable M. Jocque delivers another heaping helping of "zydeco nouveau" seasoned by his personal synthesis of traditional zydeco and modern rhythms. The wailing guitars of Ray Mouton and Kent Pierre Augustine stand out on top of the Hi-Rollers’ loose, relaxed grooves. (Mardi Gras)

Duster Bennett • Comin’ Home

This is the second set of unreleased recordings from 1971–’75 by the British harmonica/guitar player who died in 1976. A nice glimpse for those who remember him, but not nearly as tasty as what’s found on the earlier collection. (Indigo†)

Tab Benoit, Debbie Davies, Kenny Neal • Homesick for the Road

The liner notes are no exaggeration: This is the sound of three "prodigiously talented performers sparked to new heights." With great guitar work and fine vocals, this CD will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Bonus appearance by Raful Neal on his own song "Luberta." Hot. (Telarc)

Chuck Berry • The Best of Chuck Berry: The Millennium Collection

Berry’s hits have been repackaged dozens of times and this one is pretty slim pickings: only 11 tracks. But if somehow you don’t have "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Carol," etc., you might want to pick it up. (MCA)

Bobby Bland • Blues & Ballads

Sixteen recordings spanning 1960 to 1983 on the Duke, ABC/Dunhill, and MCA labels. From the bare sound of 1960’s "I’ve Been Wrong So Long" to the lush orchestrations on 1973’s "I’ve Got to Use My Imagination" and 1974’s "Lovin’ on Borrowed Time," these fine recordings from Bland’s fertile middle period also exemplify the sound these labels successfully cultivated to provide Bland with his series of hits. (MCA)

Blue Hoo • In Dog Years

Subdued set of originals from this acoustic trio represents the laid-back regional sound of back-porch outfits popular in the Pacific Northwest. Blue Hoo sounds best during its slower, most introspective moments. (Geek Salad)

Blues Busters • Busted!

A re-release of the original 1984 High Water recording with three added earlier tracks featuring Boogie Man Hubbard on keys and Funky John Cole on bass. Probably some of the best blues ever to come out of Memphis. Check out the guitar lick on "Midnight Roundup." (HMG/HighTone)

Blues Down Town • Evil Chaser

These Swedes have that West Coast blues thing down. From the tasty guitar work to the chromatic harp tone, they’ve certainly listened carefully to Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. I’d pay to see them … if I was in Sweden. (CeePeeVee)

The Boneshakers • Shake the Planet

Essentially, the Boneshakers are lead vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson and guitar wizard Randy Jacobs. Together they provide a smokin’ set of blues with strong soul and funk tinges. Soulful singing framed by shifting rhythmic and stylistic backdrops and punctuated with screaming guitar equals a fine modern blues amalgam. (Pointblank)

Skeeter Brandon & Hwy 61 • I’m a Man of My Word

This fourth recording from keyboardist Skeeter Brandon and Hwy 61 shows off Brandon’s remarkable vocal power and range, from a rumbling baritone to a sweet falsetto. The band is extremely tight, with the tasty guitar of new member Max Drake set off by a smoking horn section. (New Moon)

Clarence Brewer • King Clarentz

A workman-like effort, with "Fast Food Slow Death" as the funny standout track. Brewer’s over-exaggerated, strangulated vocals add comic effect to everything, for better or worse. (Tone)

Hadda Brooks • I’ve Got News for You

Spotlighting the dual personality of the octogenarian Miss Brooks with tracks from the ’40s, ’50s and ’90s. Blues & R&B fans will want to hear the set of kicking boogie-woogie piano numbers (many featuring Pete Johnson) collected on "Hadda Swings," while "Hadda Sings" offers a set with more contemporary tracks, mostly torchy pop-jazz standards highlighted by Ms. Brooks’ duet with Charles Brown on "Stairway to the Stars." (Pointblank)

Lonnie Brooks, Long John Hunter and Phillip Walker • Lone Star Shootout

"Put three veteran guitar slingers together on one silver disc and you can’t help but create some fun. Entertaining results from players who first rubbed elbows 40-odd years ago in the rough Gulf Coast region around Port Arthur, Texas." [Kisliuk] (Alligator)

Aron Burton • Good Blues to You

Good blues to you is exactly what this veteran Chicago bassman delivers. His rich history is clearly painted across this colorful variety of tunes, anchored by solid bass lines and convincing vocals. (Delmark)

Cafe Blue • A Good Night for the Blues

This band features that fine Hammond B-3 sound, great horn arrangements, and tasty vocals and guitar work from Pat Coast. They jump and jive, touching all the bases from swing to funk and back to blues with a soulful version of Ray Charles’ "A Fool for You," and finally hitting a homer with the title track.

Barbara Carr • What a Woman Wants

Barbara Carr is telling it like it is on this one — a perfect way to prepare for those hot steamy nights. Finger-snappin’ tunes sure to keep dance-floors hoppin’ and back seats rockin’. (Ecko)

Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band • Too Hot to Handle

Bayou swamp-funk captured live in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the Grant Street Dancehall. Oh yeah, that zydeco accordion is out in front as this spirited party band dances through a set of originals and unlikely covers like "Turn on Your Lovelight," "Fire on the Mountain" and "Rock Me Baby." (Louisiana Red Hot)

Boozoo Chavis and the Magic Sounds • Who Stole My Monkey?

"A raw, down-home blend of zydeco, R&B and blues. The emphasis is on an insistent dance beat that verges on maniacal. These are songs that beg motion, not introspection. " [Powell] (Rounder)

Jon Cleary • Moonburn

Blues with plenty New Orleans sauce, hold the accordion. Cleary sings and plays piano, organ, clavinet, guitars and bass, bringing in other vocalists and musicians as needed to lay down 12 originals that range in sound from Dr. John to Mose Allison and a few points not in between. (Pointblank)

Robert Cray • Take Your Shoes Off

"The ghosts of Albert King, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Lowell Fulson haunt the grooves of this glorious soul recording, Cray’s most soulful album to date. Recorded in Nashville but reeking of Memphis, the very sound of it is a testament to the vibrancy of the soul era." [Powell] (Rykodisc)

Dam Dog • Dog’gone

Well-intentioned second effort from the Kyle Brothers is long on homemade charm but short on originality. (Coon Dog)

Honey Davis • My Heart Attacked Me

The basic tracks for this disc were recorded in 1988 to honor the memory of Mary "Christmas," guitarist Davis’ long-time partner and keyboard player. Blues, blues-rock and a little blue-eyed soul, some of it with a terrific amount of feeling. The mono sound is pretty cheesy, but several cuts from the original LP bear repeated airplay. The CD tacks on some live and studio tracks from ’86 and ’87. (Blue Flame†)

Delaney • Sounds From Home

That’s right, it’s Delaney Bramlett back with a sampler of the music that is truest to his heart, moving from funk to Southern pop-rock and back to the blues a la Nashville, then on to the very country "It’s Over," where Bramlett aspires to the Roy Orbison sound and does a great job. (Zane)

Fats Domino • Fats Is Back

A digitally remastered reissue of the fabulous 1968 Warner/Reprise sessions featuring Fats actually recording an album, where most of his previous work (65 million records worth) was singles or collections of hits. None of the well-known hits here, just some great music. (Bullseye Blues)

Johnny Drummer • It’s So Nice

Drummer offers up some smooooth, soul-flavored blues that go down real easy. Likeable if a bit predictable lyrically, he wraps some nice pipes around the lover-man tunes. (Earwig)

The Mark DuFresne Band Featuring Billy Stapleton • Have Another Round

Outstanding harp work from DuFresne and the cutting guitar of Billy Stapleton help define a slightly different take on the West Coast sound that makes this band unique. Their twisted lyrics ("Hell Is What You Make It") make it all fun as they walk the line between Robert Cray and James Harman.

Dan Electro & the Silvertones • Reason to Lie

Swinging jump blues at its best here with 16 tunes performed by guys who have some mileage — what they lack in youthful energy, they make up for in taste. If your toe’s not tapping, it must be amputated. (Cattone)

Fatt Bottom Blues Band • An agreeably laid-back Atlanta trio with a vocalist who sounds so subdued as to seem disembodied, ghost-like, yet it adds to rather than detracts from the atmosphere. Could grow on you.

Kirk "Eli" Fletcher • I’m Here & I’m Gone

Fletcher is a 22-year-old guitarist straight outta the Compton, California ghetto bearing an ample helping of chops. On most songs he percolates behind vocalists John Marx and Jackie Payne and then just tears up his breaks — always with perfect taste, never into showy excess. Fletcher’s well-developed talent is ripe for plucking by some astute U.S. blues label. Produced by Jimmy Morello, with three "back to mono" bonus mixes that would sound great on your old transistor radio. (JSP†)

Robben Ford • Sunrise

"As this collection of live tunes from 1972 clearly demonstrates, Ford started out an ambitious and hungry player keen to the prevailing fusion vibe but respectful of blues and jazz roots. This period sampler is a nice reminder that the guy used to peel some paint and need a haircut." [Kirby] (Avenue)

Willie Foster • Live at Airport Grocery

"Will mainly interest those who are looking for music a little closer to road-house/juke-joint territory than is offered by keen-edged touring bands and want it to come from a player of seniority." [Schuller] (Mempho)

Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets Featuring Sam Myers • Change in My Pocket

"These gentlemen bring great joy and grace to the blues, and this is an essay on the true joys of partnership. Funderburgh is a masterful rhythm guitarist, and when he steps out front for a solo, he makes every note count with equal mastery." [Huchtemann] (Bullseye Blues)

Al Garrett • Out of Bad Luck

Promising outing by long-time L.A. sideman Al Garrett, who cites Wayne Bennett and Magic Sam as influences but isn’t a slave to their styles. Direct, soulful singing and axework elevate this first solo effort above the pack. (Fedora)

Gashouse Dave and the Hardtails • Hollywood After Dark

Slick, cinematic modern blues from the wild, seedy side of the L.A. urban jungle with clever topical lyrics: mail order guns, rent-a-car queens and Devil Girl chocolate bars. (Terra Nova Records)

Danny Gatton • Portraits

No actual straight-ahead blues on this posthumous release, just flat-out brilliant guitar playing that covers territory loosely bounded by Bill Doggett, Link Wray, the Crickets and Charlie Christian. All in all, not bad company. (Big Mo)

Buddy Guy • Buddy’s Baddest: The Best of Buddy Guy

This is Buddy in the ’90s: eleven cuts from his five Silvertone CDs plus three unreleased bonus tracks. Given that he’s won a slew of Grammy and Handy awards with this material, the disc ought to have plenty of appeal for contemporary blues listeners. (Silvertone)

The Hangan Brothers • Life Is a Hard Blues

Recorded live at the Smokehouse in Alta Loma, California in 1995 and 1996, this is some really smooth acoustic blues featuring harp, bass, drums and guitar, with a bit of slide and some fiddle and accordion added in discreet measure. The focus is on Clabe Hangan’s vocals, framed by a homey Piedmont sound that draws you right in. (Deep Water)

Corey Harris • Greens From the Garden

"Harris takes a giant, deliberate step forward with this quasi-concept album intended at least partly to separate him from the pack of ‘new traditionalists.’ By interspersing the songs with culinary commentary he recorded from friends and other connoisseurs on a favorite Southern staple, he breaks up the linearity of the song list." [Rucker] (Alligator)

Hash Brown’s Texas Blues Revue

Here it is, the mother of all modern Texas blues bands, with various tracks featuring the likes of Hash Brown himself, Zuzu Bollin, Darrell Nulisch, Sam Myers, Matt McCabe, Big Al Dupree and Kaz Kazanoff. It’s everything you would expect from these players and more. If you only buy one CD, get this one. (Cannonball)

Headhunters • Voodoo Pie

Blues-rock for the H.O.R.D.E. set from this Austin, Texas combo. They deliver raucous takes on "Killing Floor," "Baby Please Don’t Go" and other classics, while their originals are strictly Blues Traveler, Jr.

Tessie Hill • I Must Tell Jesus

Recorded mostly in the mid-’70’s, these contemporary-style gospel recordings by diva Tessie Hill came as a bit of a shock to the traditional gospel community at the time. But her power and control combined with her humility made her popular with gospel and popular audiences alike. Some of her best work re-released on CD. (Peacock/MCA)

Aashid Himons & the Mountain Soul Band • West Virginia Hills

If a fusion of bluegrass, Appalachian mountain music and traditional blues tunes sounds like your cup of tea, taste this. Interesting … but is it the blues? (Soptek)

Dave Hole • Under the Spell

"Always captivating, Hole goes off on wildly inventive solo flights, taking listeners out on a limb yet always managing to reel things back in without falling on his face. But man, this music would really take off if he had a vocalist up to the task of taking on that guitar work." [Martinez] (Alligator)

Earl Hooker • Simply the Best

Give this one a mess of stars: the original wah-wah master on 19 tracks, featured on his own and backing Muddy, Sonny & Brownie, Charles Brown, cousin John Lee Hooker, Andrew "Voice" Odom and Johnny "Big Moose" Walker. This MCA compilation draws on material recorded for Chess, ABC/Bluesway, and Blue Thumb, so you won’t find any of his Arhoolie work here, but this is an exceptionally fine tribute to a great and under-heralded guitarist. (MCA)

John Lee Hooker • The Best of John Lee Hooker: The Millennium Collection

A dozen well-chosen tracks of vintage Hook: early-’50s Chess and mid-’60s ABC/Bluesway material, sounding better than it ever has. All meat, no filler. (MCA)


"This music has a great feel — spare, ghostly, intimate, lurching, it rides the mainline to the heart. But narcoleptic singer Mike Halby spends a lot of time flitting around the line that separates honest blues feeling from blackface minstrelsy lampooning, and he doesn’t seem to have much sense of what side of the line he’s on at any given time." [Morthland] (Legacy)

Howard and the White Boys • The Big Score

"A very competent rock band with blues leanings, a kicking rhythm section and two guitarists who somehow manage to work together without stepping on each other’s toes. But the addition of greater vocal muscle and better tunes would serve them well and might give them a more recognizable musical persona." [Cianci] (Evidence)

Iko Iko • Protected By Voodoo

Careful here — the name makes you think zydeco, but it’s not that at all. A slight touch of N’Awlins sound is almost undetectable in this collection of moody pieces accentuated by Graham Wood Drout’s smoky vocals. This one grows on you. (Little Silver)

Indigo Swing • Red Light!

"One of the founding bands of the current neo-swing movement. Charismatic frontman Johnny Boyd’s crooning perfection brings an assured grace to every note, whether lush and tender or jumpin’." [Huchtemann] (Time Bomb)

John Jackson • Country Blues & Ditties

Arhoolie’s Chris Strachwitz recorded these 25 tunes showcasing Jackson’s brand of Piedmont blues during three separate sessions in 1965, ’67, and ’69. The quality is excellent, as are Jackson’s performances. (Arhoolie)

John Jackson • Front Porch Blues

Thirty years after the recording reviewed above, Jackson returns with a new Alligator album that shows he’s improved with age and offers perhaps the finest example of authentic Piedmont blues available today. When he sings the haunting "Death Don’t Have No Mercy," you get the sense he’s thinking about how close his time may be. (Alligator)

Big George Jackson • Beggin’ Ain’t for Me

Big George has a big voice and plays mean harp, shown to good advantage on this collection of easy-rollin’ Chicago-style blues. (Black & Tan)

The Russell Jackson Band • Becoming Blue

"Singer and bass player Jackson is a soulful and convincing vocalist, guitarist James Rogers is a sharp improviser, the band is masterlocked in, and they turn out a blend of blues and soul designed to move a crowd." [Kisliuk] (StoneBluz)

Alvon Johnson • Alvon

"Alvon — the lover, the guitar god, the goof-off, the straight-ahead bluesman — this Bay Area nightclub stalwart performs on many instruments, and his earthy vocals display a timing and ease that come from working lots of crowds. He can wail on the guitar." [Kisliuk]

Jelly Roll Johnson • … And a Few Close Friends

Harpist Johnson teams up with Nashville songwriters Verlon Thompson, Tony Arata, Scott Miller, Malcolm Holcomb and others and adds his harmonica to the acoustic guitars and vocal talents of the songwriters as they perform their own material. A smooth sound like Piedmont blues strained through Nashville, with a distinctive twang just barely perceptible on these 11 well-produced tunes. (JMJ)

Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson • Live at the Rynborn

This disc captures a Johnson set circa 1995. Although the recording sound is somewhat thin, you still get the feeling that the house was definitely rocked that night. Might have been transcendent with better production. (MC)

Scott Keeton and the Deviants • 100 Mile Blues

Oklahoma-based blues-rocker Scott Keeton dishes up an even dozen tunes in true Texas style with his four-piece band. This is roadhouse music the way you love it, with a slice of pizza and a dark beer. (JSP )

Sue Keller • Those Irresistible Blues

"Keller offers a look into the Spirit of Blues Past, with a rollicking collection of piano boogies, rags and vamps without amps, hearkening back to the very beginnings of barrelhouse. Modern blues piano players will find nearly every trick they know demonstrated somewhere in these 66 minutes devoted to the 88s." [Kisliuk] (HV Recording)

Luther Kent • Down in New Orleans

Gettin’ down and dirty in New Orleans. The lyrics are good, Kent is up to snuff vocally, the playing is polished, but the endless parade of slow-to-mid tempos drag things down considerably. Sparks don’t quite fly like they should have. (Louisiana Red Hot)

Albert King • Blues Masters: The Very Best of Albert King

Well over an hour of recordings from 1960–’75 that cut a wide swath through Albert’s efforts for Federal, King and Stax. But if you’ve got Rhino’s The Ultimate Collection (1993) you already have nearly everything here. (Rhino)

B.B. King • Live in Japan

For arcane contractual reasons, American listeners have been denied this 1971 concert recording until now (although a handful of tracks made it onto a pair of collections in recent years). King absolutely burns for over 76 minutes with plenty of jamming and lots of delectable guitar work. The thrill is right here. (MCA)

B.B. King • The Best of B.B. King: The Millennium Collection

Ten songs, all but one from his late-60s/mid-’70s ABC catalogue. "The Thrill Is Gone" is here, of course, but so is the questionable "Into the Night." Maybe these are B.B.’s best-sellers, but they’re not always his best sides. (MCA)

King Cotton Blues Band • 10' Tall

With three pieces plus a vocalist, King Cotton delivers a clean sound with some welcome space around it. You can hear guitarist Eddie Gay’s obvious Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan influences, but he’s a bit closer to the latter’s understated lines than the former’s over-the-top approach. (Clovis)

Knockout Greg & Blue Weather • 7-8-9-10 & Out

This is the third release by a top-notch combo from Sweden, and offers proof that the blues is truly universal. They strut all the right stuff on this swingin’ set, highlighted by nice harp and guitar work, and you can only just barely detect an accent on Greg’s knockout vocals. Fun. (Blue Mood)

Koerner, Ray & Glover • The Return of Koerner Ray & Glover

(1965) The three Minnesotans shine on this CD reissue of their third and last album. Their original material holds up well and they offer a very credible take on the acoustic blues. Good stuff. (Red House)

Paul Lamb and the King Snakes • The Blue Album

Fourteen originals from the five-time U.K. Blues Band of the Year award winners. Lamb’s chromatic harp counterpoints the masterful guitar of Johnny Whitehill in this magical blend of the old Chess sound with a little ’90s West Coast edge. (Indigo)

Tim "Too Slim" Langford • Pint Store Blues

Decent acoustic blues effort from this Spokane trio. Lotsa covers, especially Lightnin’ Hopkins. How ’bout some originals next time? (Underworld)

Little Ray and the Blues Sonics • Hot Rod Blues

It’s that guitar, bass, drums and harp combination from Southwest Texas again. The difference is the outstanding guitar work of Little Ray himself, doing an excellent job of pulling it all together. (Great Blues Recordings)

Loaded Dice • (Acoustic Trio)

This guitar-piano-harmonica group displays great taste in cover material: Randy Newman’s "Guilty," Sam Cooke’s "Bring It On Home," Johnny Copeland’s "Cut off My Right Arm," plus 9 more — all performed with homespun, laid-back charm.

John "Juke" Logan • Juke Rhythm

Some of L.A.’s finest — including David Hidalgo, Rick Vito, Kid Ramos, and Gary Primich — join the Juke for 13 great sides. Harp players will love the Primich-Logan duet on "Twice Pipes." (Mocombo)

Willie Lomax Blues Revue • Ribs Are Ready

Guitarist Willie Lomax (the pseudonym of a Florida dentist) surrounds himself with a solid cast of characters on a bunch of well-written original tunes recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording Studio in Memphis. Organist/vocalist Shawn Brown sings in a modern style that sometimes verges on the overwrought, but his bombast is tempered by guest spots from Frank Frost, Sam Carr and James Peterson which make for the most authentic-sounding numbers on the disc. (Big Boss Records)

Louisiana Red • Always Played the Blues

"Blues veteran Louisiana Red (ne Iverson Minter) proves that rhythmic exuberance and professional guile can be more important than technical innovation on this CD reissue of decade-old recordings." [Burke] (JSP†)

Louisiana Red • Millennium Blues

This blues survivor’s homecoming party is a blistering affair. Red’s backed by a fine ensemble of Chicago blues vets on the electric rockers and alternates with harrowing solo acoustic slide workouts on standout cuts like "Orphanage Blues." His slide guitar and vocals still pack a wallop. (Earwig)

Mahoney Bros. Blues Band • Cruisin’ for a Bluzin’

The simple guitar, bass, drums and harp format delivered with finesse. Carson Gay’s strong vocals and harp work are complemented by the biting guitar of Ryan McSpadden. From the slow and mellow "I Got a Way With Women" ("… that’s why I’m all alone") to the cooking title track, every cut is worth a listen.

J.J. Malone • See Me Early in the Morning

Fine effort from guitar-playing Alabaman who’s been an Oakland-area staple for 30 years. Strong covers of the Jr. Wells title tune and Memphis Slim’s "Mother Earth" plus a host of crunchy originals, including his early-70s near-hit "It’s a Shame." (Fedora)

Marla BB • I’m No Angel

New York’s "Sassy Mama" does the over-the-top blues diva thing, backed by ace NYC studio cats on this four-song demo. (Ascending Productions)

Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts • Vintage Thunderbolts

A collection of material from 1970–’89 by one of the most eclectic groups of blues enthusiasts ever to come out of England. Souped-up country blues by a garage band having more fun than should be legal. Too bad the recording quality is so poor, as the electrified acoustic slide guitar work of Graham Hine deserves better. (Mooncrest)

John Mayall • Rock the Blues Tonight

Two discs of "official bootlegs" from Mayall’s 1970–’71 Canadian tour, featuring Harvey Mandel, Sugarcane Harris and Larry Taylor, plus three songs from the "jazz-blues fusion" band with Freddie Roulette, Blue Mitchell, Fred Clark, Victor Gaskin and Keefe Hartley. Sound quality is acceptable, but there’s some duplication of the more popular songs like "Crying," "Took the Car" and "Possessive Emotions." A real treat for fans of this period in Mayall’s lengthy career. (Indigo†)

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers • Padlock on the Blues

Mayall lays it out on the title cut: "I got my own style and when I sing you’re gonna hear that howl. / I got to go with what I got and what I got won’t let me down." It certainly doesn’t. This solid effort with guest guitar appearances by John Lee Hooker and Coco Montoya is one of Mayall’s best. (Eagle)

Mighty Sam McClain • Soul Survivor

McClain is the real deal. He’s survived and flourished as a master of classic soul music, and this collection of tunes recorded between 1992 and 1997 represents the best of his work. McClain’s vocals could bring on an emotional reaction from Mr. Spock. (Audioquest)

Jay McShann With Duke Robillard and Maria Muldaur • Still Jumpin’ the Blues

The Kansas City piano legend has been around a lo-o-o-ong time — he gave Charlie Parker his first real gig — but even at age 83 his playing, singing and timing are superb. Backed by the Duke Robillard Band (with a couple of on-target vocals by Maria Muldaur), McShann makes this set of swing favorites sound as fresh as the day they were first recorded. A fascinating interview is included as a special bonus. (Stony Plain)

The Maynard Mills Blues Band • Blues By Light

This four-song demo of mostly long blues jams, recorded live, shows promise, though the vocals are a little weak. File under Bar Band for now.

R.J. Mischo • West Wind Blowin

Watch out, here comes a cat from Minnesota who celebrates his move to California with some of the best Chicago-meets-L.A. blues to be heard. With Rusty Zinn and Steve Freund on guitars, Mischo and friends play blues rooted in the tradition with a personal slant. (Mountain Top)

Mojo Stu • Good Gravy

Recorded direct to tape with no overdubs, Stuart Bryant a.k.a. Mojo Stu bares his soul over some nice acoustic finger-picking. The mostly original works create a late night vibe, with Stu bellowing over the top. (Mudbone)

The Moochers • Mean Business

This four-piece British blues band features the West Coast sound of harpist Matt Walklate and guitarist Andy Pyatt. One of the best English imports this time around. (Mammoth†)

Mike Morgan & the Crawl • I Like the Way You Work It

A solid effort that runs the gamut of Texas blues styles, highlighted by Morgan’s supple guitar work and McBee’s impassioned singing. The Crawl have more than enough chops to pull it all off. If Texas-style is your thing, look no further. (Black Top)

Big Bill Morganfield • Rising Son

"Blessed with the deeply emotive voice and rhythmic intelligence which characterized his father’s approach, Morganfield the younger works his way through an ambitious program of classic songs, augmented by a selection of his own compositions clearly drawn from the well of the Delta blues tradition." [Sinclair] (Blind Pig)

Maria Muldaur • Meet Me Where They Play the Blues

"Seductive, sultry vocals that evoke smoke-filled after-hours clubs are the allure that Maria Muldaur brings to Meet Me Where They Play the Blues. From the opening lines of ‘Soothe Me,’ with its sweet-as-molasses delivery, to the gospel-tinged closing cut, ‘The Promised Land,’ she taunts, teases and titillates with her vocal stylings." [Koetzner] (Telarc)

Charlie Musselwhite • Continental Drifter

This is really three Charlies in one: (1) frontman for a straight-ahead blues band, (2) the solo Charlie, just acoustic guitar and harp, and (3) worldbeat Charlie, melding blues with authentic Brazilian and Cuban backup bands. Charlie gets points for experimenting, and also for pulling it off … for the most part. (Pointblank)

Raymond Myles With the Rams • Heaven Is the Place

Myles, the New Orleans gospel music giant who was brutally murdered in October 1998, shows here why he was at the forefront of contemporary gospel music as he leads his choir through a live set that includes "Jesus Is the Baddest Man in Town." Myles and the Rams were a regular closing act in the Gospel Tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival until his untimely demise. (NYNO)

Jimmy Nalls • Ain’t No Stranger

Nalls is a very tasty guitar slinger, purveyor of laid-back blues and swampy rock’n’roll. While his vocals are serviceable, his true voice comes across loud and clear on his guitar. Features Chuck Leavall of the Allmans on two tracks, and nice harp from Will Rhodarmer. (MRL)

Old Time Blues & Boogie Duo • Live Again

Piano/guitar duo has them stompin’ and hollering’ at that little inn just off the … autobahn? Yep, it’s two Germans faithfully rendering Musselwhite, Dixon and Blind Blake. Nice stride piano and vocals.

The Parish • Dance on the Moon

Dutch blues-rock power trio leans heavily on all the usual influences in this set of forgettable originals.

Asie Payton • Worried

This posthumous release is actually a collection of demos that Fat Possum coaxed out of the studio-shy Payton, and it’s what you’ve come to expect from a Possum release: incredibly raw, stripped-down performances that really capture the primitive essence of the blues. Haunted and harrowing, this is the Real Thing, warts and all. (Fat Possum)

Ross William Perry • It’ll All Make Sense

Teenage wunderkind Perry shows off his SRV licks and raises the stakes in the "I’m a young white kid playing loud blues guitar" competition. Watch out Johnny Lang and company, this kid has some real guitar licks, and his vocals don’t sound as strained as some of his ilk. (Kidblue)

Piano "C" Red • Cab Driving Man

Chicago cabdriver-keyboardist James Wheeler is probably a hoot to catch in some South Side club, but on this set of 1991 recordings his simplistic songs are derivative and their grooves get worked to death. Some tunes feature a horn section that can’t seem to decide what key they’re in. (Keyboard)

Toni Price • Low Down And Up

Bluesy jazz is a prominent flavor here, with the Austin-based songbird utilizing a cooler style than previously demonstrated. She holds her passion and sexuality in check until she’s ready to cut them loose, and even when she’s singing country or rock there’s always an underlying current of blues. (Antone’s)

Primetime Blues Band • Prime Cut Blues

Adequate bar-band blues for the average corner bar. Needs polish and inspiration if the blues ladder is to be climbed.

Gary Primich • Botheration

The latest effort from Primich is a well-produced collection of 12 tunes ranging from the smooth sound of "It’s Your Baby" to the hot boogie of "Mr. Itch." Primich’s vocals get better with each release, and Mark Korpi’s outstanding guitar work helps make this session one of the harpist’s best. (Black Top)

A.C. Reed • Junk Food With Albert Collins

"Instead of the weary cliches that populate many blues recordings, saxman Reed stirs up an original brew of topical humor and wit that celebrates life as he knows it. His musical approach ranges from tight funk grooves to plodding slow blues to driving shuffles." [Powell] (Delmark)

Johnny Reed & the Houserockers • That’s the Blues

Eight tasty tunes from harpman Johnny Reed and his cohorts Danny Pratt on guitar, Catfish Warner on bass, and Rolly Rayman on drums.

Chuck Roberson • Love Power

Some modern soul/R&B with that distinctive Memphis sound. Roberson’s vocals are right on, but the best cut is the only real blues on the CD, "You Ain’t Cheatin’ by the Rules." (Ecko)

Roy Roberts • Deeper Shade of Blue

On his third CD, Roberts plays and sings with sophistication, style and grace, informed by his years as guitarist for the likes of Solomon Burke and Eddie Floyd. (King Snake)

Duke Robillard • New Blues for Modern Man

"Despite his preservationist credentials, Robillard isn’t afraid to experiment. The first six tracks are fine examples of Robillard’s rockin’ repertoire; then, on five of the next six cuts, Robillard takes us back to the old school. Here’s a tip: If you prefer Robillard’s vintage blues over his rock material, program your CD player so that the tracks play in reverse order." [Ranney] (Shanachie)

Curtis Salgado • Wiggle Outta This

Salgado has put together a tight band featuring John Wedermeyer’s guitars and co-writer Peter Boe’s keyboards to showcase his vocal and harp work. Guest appearances on various cuts by Duke Robillard, Terry Robb, Marlon McClain and others add nicely to the mix. (Shanachie)

Evie Sands • Women in Prison

Sands is the classic hard-luck music business story. After her original versions of "I Can’t Let Go" and "Angel of the Morning" became hits for others, she’s back from a period of relative obscurity with a somewhat tentative album that crosses blues with pop elements. Her pop side is more successful — hopefully she’ll keep at it. (Train Wreck†)

Savoy Brown • The Blues Keep Me Holding On

Hard-driving blues from the legendary Savoy Brown, this time around with Nathaniel Peterson on bass, Kim Simmonds on guitar and Tom Compton on drums. They bring in some hired guns, including Dave Maxwell on piano, Duke Robillard on guitar, Paul Oscher on harp, Leo Lyons on bass and ex-SB drummer Roger Earl to round out various cuts. (Mystic )

Ken Saydak • Foolish Man

"Pianist Saydak generally goes easy on the instrumental fireworks in favor of smart, neatly framed songs about frustrated love, regret and the simple joys of imperfect living. He keeps his focus on the tunes, delivering each with measured burn." [Kirby] (Delmark)

"Blue" Max Schang • All These Years

Schang is an accomplished guitarist who’s as much at home on acoustic slide as he is playing originals, Chicago blues, Chuck Berry or Clifton Chenier. A swingin’, tasteful affair. (Hot Rod/Blue Max)

Keith Scott • No Mercy

Scott’s fiery guitar work cuts through this low-budget six-song demo like a machete. File under Guitar Hero. (KSO)

Greg Serrato • Holy Smokes

Rockin’ Strat-master Serrato gets the big sound on these 11 cuts, with organ and horn arrangements framing his fine guitar and vocals. The instrumental title cut will cause guitar slingers to holler "Holy Smokes." (J Bird)

Shufflin’ Grand Dads • Burnin’

The cute "shaped" disc, a cartoon Grand Dad in his rocking chair in front of stacks of amps, is unfortunately the best thing about this shrill, ’70s-style blues-rock nightmare.

Terrance Simien • Positively Beadhead

A straight-ahead romp through all the Louisiana idioms, courtesy of accordionist Simien and pals. Reach for this well-paced zydeco workout if you need some good Creole spice. (Tone Cool)

Clarence "Guitar" Sims • Born to Sing the Blues

Sims started his career in San Francisco in the ’50s as "Fillmore Slim," but he spent too much time in the fast life and ended up in prison for five years before he got serious about playing the guitar. Most of the songs on this 1987 recording were written while Sims was in the federal penitentiary, and this re-issue includes some master recordings that didn’t make the LP. (Mountain Top)

Paul "Lil’ Buck" Sinegal • The Buck Starts Here

Sinegal is the outstanding Louisiana guitarist best known for his work in the zydeco bands of Clifton Chenier, Rockin’ Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco. He also played blues on the swampy Excello recordings of Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo as a teenaged session musician. His vocals are passable at best, but there are plenty of good songs and the album picks up steam as it goes along. Buck’s version of "Sleepwalk" may even surpass the original. (NYNO)

Stavin’ Chain • "Grayson Capps and John Lawrence employ Delta blues, classic R&B, folk, rock and the Crescent City’s second-line influence. Named after a bawdy Jelly Roll Morton song, the guitar duo sound more like ’70s rockers gone mostly unplugged." [Cianci] (Ruf Records)

Patrick Stilwell • Kaleidoscope

Stilwell shows off his exceptionally fluid style on guitar, accented by clean, uncluttered tones and some jazzy phrasing. The disc has a smoky, laid-back feel — if only the vocals had been stronger, this might have been a really exceptional release. (Echotone)

Rob Stone and the C-Note$ • No Worries

Tight arrangements of originals and covers spotlight the hot Chicago sounds of harpist Stone, and Chris James’ guitar work is both authentic and original at the same time. (Marquis)

Job Striles • Job Striles Sings and Plays

"Striles is another in a long line of sharp L.A.-based guitarists who pick in the T-Bone tradition. His style is distinctive in part because it’s a little bit rougher and a little bit rowdier than his clean-picking counterparts, but still creative and always musical. His singing is pretty much up to the task." [Kisliuk] (DayJobView)

The Swan Silvertones • A Collection of Their Finest Recordings

Claude Jeter’s amazing falsetto is front and center on most of these late ’60s recordings by the ground-breaking gospel group named after the Swan Bakery, sponsor of their Knoxville radio show in the ’40s. (Music Club)

Taboo Blue • Mood Swings

Second CD from this Minnesota crew offers low-key blues-inflected rock with thoughtful songs like "Hurtin’ Don’t Feel So Bad" and "I Believe in My Dreams." The bonus live tracks at the end show that they can up the ante in front of a crowd. (Spacely Sparks/Cold Wind)

Tail Dragger • American People

"This West Side Chicago club fixture has almost as much grit in his voice as the man he used to imitate, Howlin’ Wolf. Though five decades of bouncy electric Chicago blues exactly like this have robbed the element of surprise from some of these songs, intermittently they stomp." [Knopper] (Delmark)

Jeff Terra • Groovin in the Galaxy

"Guitarist Terra’s tone is fat, nice, and he plays in an inventive though unobtrusive way that illuminates the fine ensemble work on originals, covers by Freddie King, Albert Collins, Jack McDuff and others." [Kisliuk] (Synergy)

Allen Toussaint & Friends • A Taste of New Orleans

From soul to gospel, reggae to jazz, funk to pop, the Crescent City is well represented in this compilation of contemporary Allen Toussaint productions for NYNO Records. Artists include Toussaint, James Andrews, Raymond Miles, Sista Teedy, Amadee Castenell, Larry Hamilton, Grace Darling, Wallace Johnson, New Birth Brass Band, Paul Sinegal, Oliver Morgan and Tricia Boutté. (NYNO)

Trickbag • Just Passing Through

A Swedish blues band that cooks. Check out the great guitar work of Magnus Sjolin, who also wrote all the tunes. It’s hard to tell that this harp/guitar/keyboard-focused recording is an import. (Concrete†)

Nap "Don’t Forget the Blues" Turner • Live at City Blues

D.C-area radio personality captured live, doing credible readings of Percy Mayfield (five of them!) and Lowell Fulson songs, but the pacing suffers when a slow dirge is repeatedly followed by an easy shuffle. The most interesting piece is "Wedding Pledge," where Turner reads a Frederick Douglas Harper poem over the tune "When a Man Loves a Woman" in an impossibly deep baritone. (Right On Rhythm)

Various • Afro-American Blues and Game Songs

The Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture has a six-CD series dedicated to American Folk music. Volume 4 includes a young farm worker named McKinley Morganfield playing guitar and singing "I Be’s Troubled," recorded by Alan Lomax at Stovall, Mississippi in 1941. Also Sonny Terry, Vera Hall, Ora Dell Graham and various inmates of Southern penitentiaries. (Rounder)

Various • Blues Power/Songs of Eric Clapton: This Ain’t No Tribute

"The all-star line-up has the problematic task of lifting Clapton’s blues-rock inventions out of their original context and transforming them into something more closely related to the blues tradition, with predictably mixed results." [Kirby] (House Of Blues)

Various • The Blues You Would Just Hate to Lose, Vol. 2

Thirteen cuts from a variety of Washington DC-based blues artists, many recorded live at local clubs. (Right On Rhythm)

Various • Chicago Blues Hard Times

Here’s 22 slices of early post-war Chicago blues on a slew of indie labels, featuring a young Little Walter, Snooky Pryor, Sunnyland Slim, and Muddy Waters, among others. A pair of old favorites, Floyd Jones’ "Stockyard Blues" and Johnny Young’s "Money Takin’ Woman," are included. (Indigo†)

Various • The Excello Story; Vol. 1 1952–1956

"Excello was the confluence of blues, country, Cajun, rockabilly, doo-wop and novelty rock’n’roll." [Robins] You can hear that wild diversity (along with some gospel) in these early sides recorded in Nashville. Arthur Gunter’s "Baby Let’s Play House" is the closest thing to a well-known tune here, unlike, say, "Calling All Cows" by the Blues Rockers. Also the Peacheroos, Shy Guy Douglas, Kid King’s Combo, the Leap Frogs, the Dixie Doodlers and lots more. (Hip-O)

Various • The Excello Story; Vol. 2 1955–1957

Excello Records began to hit the charts with greater frequency in the mid-’50s when J.D. Miller started sending in swamp-blues productions by Lightnin’ Slim, Guitar Gable & King Karl, Lonesome Sundown, Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo from his studio in Crowley, Louisiana. On the Nashville side there’s Jerry McCain, Earl Gaines with "It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)," and some rockabilly and nascent rock’n’roll. (Hip-O)

Various • The Excello Story; Vol. 3 1957–1961

Although the Diamonds had the huge hit with "Little Darlin’," they stole the entire arrangement from the Gladiolas’ version on Excello. More choice stuff from Carol Fran, Leroy Washington, Lillian Offitt, and Roscoe Shelton, plus the rest of Miller’s stable in Crowley. Also some doo-wop (the Crescendos’ "Oh Julie") and swamp-pop from Warren Storm. (Hip-O)

Various • The Excello Story; Vol. 4 1961–1975

Add to the mix Tabby Thomas, Little Sonny, Baby Boy Warren, Moses "Whispering" Smith, and Silas Hogan, whose "Trouble at Home Blues" has great lyrics like "These roaches round here have got so brave, people / They shut the gas off on my stove." There are also forays into soul with the Kelly Brothers, Kip Anderson, Marva Whitey, Jerry Washington and Roshell Anderson. (Hip-O)

Various • Fish Tree Water Blues

"A fundraiser for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, the broad cross-section of music represented here falls better into Dave Alvin’s descriptive ‘American Music’ category, an eclectic vision for which Fish Tree Water Blues should be applauded." [Huchtemann] (Bullseye Blues)

Various • Go Daddy Go; Juke Joint Jive Series

Wanna dance? Fans of modern swing can take a lesson here straight from the source, with cuts by Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Louis Prima, Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman among others. (The Right Stuff)

Various • House of Blues Swings!

This "insider’s tour" of the modern swing movement, courtesy of House of Blues and Heidi Richman, showcases modern pop combos from both coasts, the Midwest, and even the U.K., including a Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys tune and a rollicking version of "Conjunction Function (Schoolhouse Rock Rules}." (Platinum)

Various • The Last Soul Company

A six-CD, 112-track boxed set from contemporary blues powerhouse Malaco Records. "Its unshakable faith in the perennial appeal of soul music made Malaco a magnet for artists deemed marginal by the major labels or refugees from defunct specialty companies like Stax. There’s nothing wrong with a good cheating song, of course, but there’s so much betrayal, guilt, hiding and shame in these songs that Malaco’s Jackson studio sometimes seems like it’s located in Beverly Holler 90210." [Robins] (Malaco)

Various • Orleans Records Story

A fine 17-song sampler from producer Carlo Ditta’s Orleans label dedicated to gaining exposure for overlooked or under-recorded artists from the Big Easy. Features cuts by artists like Little Freddie King, Ironing Board Sam, Roland Stone, Mighty Sam McClain, and Coco Robicheaux. Unlike many samplers, this one has perfect pacing and a production that’s as consistent as it is high-quality. (Orleans)

Various • Texas Blues Radio Volume 2

Nationally-known acts (Mike Morgan and Pat Boyack) and local heroes from North Texas join forces in support of Dallas/Ft. Worth community radio station KNON. While the quality of the productions may vary, the quality of the music does not. (KNON Radio)

Various • To the Blues

The small Birmingham, Alabama-based Vent label specializes in a variety of blues styles: Little Whitt & Big Bo and Little Jimmy Reed are the most down-home of the lot, with more contemporary sounds from Topper Price & the Upsetters, Dick’s Hat Band, the King Brothers, Mark Sallings & the Famous Unknowns and the Pounders. (Vent)

Various • Uptown Lounge

Marquee lineup including Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole, Carmen McRae, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others performing bluesy standards. Truly fine and mellow. (The Right Stuff)

C.A. Waller • What Do You Do With Your Blues?

A fine selection of acoustic blues — both originals and covers — featuring slide guitarist Waller singing and playing backed by fiddle, mandolin, bass and various back-up vocals and minimal percussion. Easy Listening Blues. (Palace)

Clara Ward & the Clara Ward Singers • Somebody Bigger Than You & I

Prepare to be anointed by the formidable gospel legend Clara Ward, mentor to Aretha Franklin, Della Reese, Sarah Vaughn, Marion Williams and many others. Ms. Ward’s undeniable power is felt throughout this collection of timeless classics including "How Great Thou Art," "Packing Up," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and other spiritual songs ingrained in our genetic codes whether we’re religious or not. This disc is not long enough! (Peacock/MCA)

Muddy Waters • The Best of Muddy Waters: The Millennium Collection

As with most of these "Millennium Collection" best-ofs, the sound is great but the time is skimpy. Just 11 of Muddy’s hits from 1951–’56, clocking in at barely over 32 minutes. (MCA)

Johnny "Guitar" Watson • Blues Masters: The Very Best of Johnny "Guitar" Watson

Nearly all of these 18 songs were singles recorded for the King/Federal and RPM labels between 1952–’63, many of them produced by Johnny Otis. These are some of the most prime slabs of bluesy R&B you’re going to find anywhere. (Rhino)

Doc and Richard Watson • Third Generation Blues

Fans of the legendary Doc Watson will be thrilled to hear that his grandson Richard has stepped up to fill the musical shoes of his late father Merle and does so quite admirably. Presented here are 14 classics including standout versions of "Honey Please Don’t Go," "St. James Infirmary" and "Summertime." Doc’s voice is in fine form. (Sugar Hill)

Bill Wharton & the Ingredients • Recipes

Highly infectious outing with Bill "The Sauce Boss" as he cooks up a tasty gumbo of high energy rockin’ blues. The Chef plays mean slide, the band sizzles and Kenny Neal spices things up on harmonica. (Burning Disk)

The Wild Magnolias • Life Is a Carnival

Big Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias hit the jackpot with this irrepressible collection of Mardi Gras Indian songs past and present, funked up in grand style by a musical consort that includes Dr. John, Cyril Neville, guitarist June Yamagishi and a non-stop rhythm section with Norwood "Geechee" Johnson on the big bass drum. Instant classics like "Coochie Molly," "Tootie Ma" and "Old Time Indian" place this spirited outing in a direct line with the gang’s self-titled debut album on Polydor from 25 years ago. (Metro Blue/Capitol)

Arthur Williams • Harpin’ on It With Boo Boo Davis

Mississippi-born in 1937, Davis cut his musical teeth with Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Eddie Taylor in mid-50’s Chicago but is just now cutting his first record as a leader at age 61. His experience shows as he and his blues crew of Bob Lohr, Boo Boo Davis, Charles Nephew Davis and Jimmy Lee Kennett play it like it’s supposed to be. (Fedora)

Big Joe Williams and Friends • Going Back to Crawford

Big Joe served as both artist and talent scout for these recording sessions made in Crawford and Starkville, Mississippi, in 1971. The 26 tracks introduce Big Joe’s "discoveries" Austen Pete, John "Shortstuff" Macon and Glover Lee Connor, but the real find is vocalist Amelia Johnson who stops the show with four hard-hitting tunes. (Arhoolie)

The Williams Brothers • Trust in the Lord

From slow testifying to funky soul alleluiahs, this compilation of nine early hits by the four-decades-old gospel group ranges wide stylistically and is enjoyable throughout. Sad to say, though, it’s over in only half an hour. (Peacock/MCA)

Zydeco Bone Shakers • Bone Shakin’ Zydeco

Former backup band of the late Rockin’ Sidney steps out on its own with an agreeably breezy set of zydeco stylings distinguished by the return to records of accordionist Miss Ann Goodley. Sure to put a smile on your face and a flame under your feet. (Louisiana Red Hot)


©1999 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA