Blues Access Spring 2000
Current Issue Blues Links Message Board
Subscribe Email Us Home Page

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)

Gaye Adegbalola • Bitter Sweet Blues

Solo joint from Saffire’s guitarist features the trio’s reliable blend of double-entendres and in-your-face sexuality backed with straight-ahead blues stylings. Produced by Rory Block. (Alligator)

Billy Boy Arnold • Catfish

The fine John Lee Williamson-influenced Chicago harp player and vocalist was down on his recording luck in 1977 when he cut this session with Tony McPhee’s British blues band, the Groundhogs. Previously released by Sequel in 1996, this set of reworked (and occasionally retitled) Billy Boy favorites and blues oldies holds up quite well. (Catfish†)

Steve Arvey • Best From the Vault

Guitarist/vocalist Arvey presents 14 tracks from the late ’80s through the ’90s. The barroom bloozer offers a program generally suited to dancing, with nothing here to stop the clock — and his vocals may have you pushing the next-track button. (Roots Alive)

Back Porch Rockers • By the Water

Back in the ’60s, Dave Ray and Tony Glover were part of the pioneering folk-blues trio Koerner, Ray and Glover, and their 35-year history together gives this set of 13 tunes recorded in Minnesota with Radiators Camile Baudoin and Reggie Scanlan a comfortable feel. Tasty vocals and understated playing in both studio and live settings make for a swinging set of folksy blues with no real surprises.

Lurrie Bell • Blues Had a Baby

This 1997 recording finds the erratic guitarist performing a dozen fairly familiar tunes. They’re all competently done but don’t raise the kind of sparks that are found on some of Lurrie’s earlier releases. Four additional tracks are impromptu acoustic numbers recorded in 1995. (Delmark)

Tab Benoit • These Blues Are All Mine

"A skillful singer/guitarist from Houma, Louisiana, with a driving style, Benoit incorporates elements of the Bayou beat into his Texas-flavored blues and stompin’ electric boogie. While Benoit and his crew haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel here, they have conjured their best studio LP to date." [Burke] (Vanguard)

Frank Bey • Steppin’ Out

Blues journeyman returns from 19-year hiatus with a solid R&B-flavored outing. Bey’s smooth vocal delivery is highlighted on this set of mostly self-penned contemporary blues. (MAG)

Big Al and the Heavyweights • Hey! Hey! Mardi Gras

Drummer Big Al Lauro leads this Louisiana band through 11 tunes, mostly original, featuring the tasty vocals and guitar of Tim Wagoner, Eddie Blakely’s accordion and Roguie Ray’s harmonica. Lauro’s decidedly Cajun drumming stirs up a blues gumbo that’s refreshing and fun. (Bluziana)

Big City Medicine Men • Big City Medicine Men

NYC band pumps out serviceable bar band ambience, but unfortunately not much else. (Mad Hands)

Big Maybelle • Half Heaven, Half Heartache

Shlocky ’60s arrangements make it difficult to recommend either half of this set of Big Maybelle’s recordings for Brunswick. "Heartache" was originally titled What More Can a Woman Do? and sounds like the producers thought they were working with Dionne Warwick. "Heaven," a.k.a. The Gospel Soul of Big Maybelle, is even worse: The backings sound like rejects from a Jimmy Rodgers album — no, not the Singing Brakeman, but the one who did "Honeycomb." (Westside†)

Blinddog Smokin’ • Blinddog Smokin’

Self-produced CD by Wyoming combo is a guitar slinger’s showcase, highlighted by some manic slide work a la rocker George Thorogood. (Crying Tone Records)

Blue Chamber Featuring Big John Dickerson • Arms of the Blues

It’s the big Chicago sound, as good as it gets. The 66-year-old Dickerson relocated his base of operations to Minneapolis in 1979 after some 40 years of touring and recording with greats like the Temptations and the Coasters. His distinctive and soulful bass vocals are at the core of this recording featuring the six-piece Blue Chamber band, which he joined up with in 1996. Tight as only three years of playing 150 dates a year can make a band, the horns are right in the pocket with Paul Mayasich’s guitar and Scott Miller’s keyboards. They mix excellent original material with tunes like Mike Bloomfield’s "Reap What You Sow" and B.B. King’s "You Upset Me Baby" to create a shining example of what a blues band can be. (Cannonball)

Blue Willow • Blue Willow

Canadian singer-songwriters Lorraine Ingle and Dawn Duvall present their own duo take on R&B Ontario-style with 13 original tunes. While "Gotta Let it All Go" aspires to Aretha without quite making it, it’s more to my taste than the synthesizer-tinged, almost-country ballad "Sometimes I Wish." Ingle’s vocals are polished and the arrangements carefully thought through, but overall it’s much closer to pop than blues.

Blues Nation • Blues Nation

A Native American blues band? "My people have a right to sing the blues," says guitarist-vocalist Tom Ware, and he has a point. But the results are largely derivative, and they bring little of distinction to the journeyman blues-band sound. (Red Hands On)

The Blues Torpedoes • Last Call

Competently executed blues-rock from this group out of the Pacific Northwest, but there’s nothing earth-shattering to be heard here. (Bear Paw)

The Boulevards • Desire

Latest outing from the Longmont, Colorado-based Boulevards was recorded in New Orleans. Frontman Chris Klein’s talents are broad, as he demonstrates on flute, sax and vocals, and his chromatic harp provides an accordion-like tinge to the instrumental "Clean Your Plate." Close your eyes and the mellow ballad "The Close of the Night" takes you straight to a near-empty nightclub where you’re getting in the last slow dance of the evening with your honey before heading home. Bob Miron’s guitar work is clean and inventive. This is an original band.

The Boulevards • Might the Boulevards Swing

Boulevards’ debut disc shows a bit more of the band’s swing roots in both rhythm and flavor, starting out with drummer George DeCaro’s second-line beat on "Saturday Night Blues." The band does better with mellow, jazzy tunes like "Solar" than with the harder numbers like "Confessin’ the Blues."

Billy Branch • Satisfy Me

Harpman Branch recorded this 1995 session in Louisiana with Chicago guitar compadre Carl Weathersby and a crack New Orleans rhythm section: David Torkanowsky (piano), George Porter Jr. (bass) and Herman V. Ernest III (drums). But, surprisingly, there’s not much of an "edge" to the proceedings most of the time, and poppy songs by Bill Withers, J.J. Cale, Leon Russell and Don Nix outweigh the deeper material. (House of Blues)

Brunning/Hall Sunflower Blues Band • I Wish You Would

This CD reissue of two LPs from a minor British group organized by former Fleetwood Mac/Savoy Brown sidemen Brunning and Hall is most notable for guest shots by Jo-Ann Kelly and Peter Green, but remains of marginal interest at best. (Indigo†)

Bubba Mac Blues Band • Road Kill

The liner notes give little to go on, but this San Francisco-based large band seems sure to provide good entertainment at their local club with attempts at humor like their "Green Onions"-flavored "Vidalia Onions, Jersey Tomatoes and White Corn" and "Designated Smoking Area Blues." But there’s nothing new on this self-produced disc to make you wonder who they are (though I think their drummer is a machine).

Mojo Buford • Champagne & Reefer

The welcome return to the stage of the long-time Muddy Waters sideman is documented on this disc, recorded in Phoenix. Buford’s vocals and harp work are in fine form, and having Bob Margolin on guitar further sweetens the deal. (Fedora)

Michael Burks • From the Inside Out

Since these 11 originals were recorded in 1997, this has been an album in search of a label. Vent may not be its final resting place, either, but grab this one if you can. Burks’ vocals and playing are deeply influenced by Albert King, and he puts it all together in the moving "Can You Feel It," the rare song that’s worth the price of admission to a whole CD. (Vent)

John Campbell • Tyler, Texas Session

The Baton Rouge-born guitarist who died at the age of 41 in 1993 had technique to spare and a strong connection to the spirit world, a powerful hoodoo that became more evident in his later work. These crystalline recordings from the late ’70s showcase his playing in a solo acoustic setting. His vocals won’t win any awards, but the whole package says "bluesman," and one of the first order. (Sphere Sound)

Albert Carey Project • Ten Cents Short of a Dime

Blustery and blistering blues-rock, well sung by leader Carey and featuring some clean and mean axe work by guitarists Tommy Byrnes, Al Pitrelli and Johnny Gale. (Deja Blue)

Jimmy Carslake and the Motormen • Blues On the Rocks

Singer Carslake leads a guitar-based blues-rock band through 11 tunes that occasionally — on tunes like "Love’s a Hurtin’ Thing" — sound like radio-playable material. (Lakestreet)

Tim Casey and the Bluescats • Live in Seattle

Northwest combo effectively captured live and direct. Good production on Casey’s second CD showcases this outfit’s rockin’ take on Louis Jordan, Robert Cray and Carey Bell, among others. (Blues Cat)

Catfish Keith • Pony Run

Latest effort from this solo acoustic bluesman includes a variety of material, from the century-old Crescent City favorite, "Funky Butt," and a few other classic tunes from the ’20s like Blind Lemon Jefferson’s "So Cold in China" and Tommy Johnson’s "Canned Heat," to the original title track. Keith’s facile finger-style and slide guitar work complement his throaty vocal sound, and his fresh interpretations combine Delta blues with Piedmont picking. He breaks new ground on a few tunes here, playing with pianist Radoslav Lorkovic. (Fish Tail)

Catman & the All-Niters • Blues From the Heart

Indiana combo rocks nicely, led by the expressive harp of Dale "Catman" Ballard. Nice instrumental work on "Mercy, Mercy , Mercy" and the Jerome Kern standard "Yesterdays" augment the straight-ahead blues shuffles. (Beezwax)

Chain • Mix Up the Oils

Aussie blues band’s 30th(!) release is competently played yet hard to take seriously, what with the over-the-top Al Jolson-esque vocals splattered on everything. (Forever†)

Clifton Chenier • Squeezebox Boogie

Another in the series of live sets recorded at Montreal’s Rising Sun Club, this time capturing the King of Zydeco delivering a relaxed but no less impassioned set of New Orleans soul. Judging by the audience reaction, this was a good night. (Just A Memory)

Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings • Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings

These guys just about live up to their lofty name, serving up a hot platter of contemporary Chicago blues and horn-driven soul. You’d expect any band featuring ex-Big Twist members to swing pretty fast and hard, and this group does not disappoint. (Blind Pig)

Davis Coen • Blues From the Get-Go

Acoustic guitarist and vocalist Coen plays 12 original tunes in the Piedmont style while singing them in the Delta style and accompanying himself on harmonica. Almost sounds authentic. (Soundview)

Grant Cook and the Starving Artists Band • Loop 323 Blues

Yet another guitarslinger from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Cook is technically as good as any of the current crop of Texas blues stylists, but with better material he could rise above the pack. (TopCat)

James Cotton, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Sugar Ray Norcia • Superharps

Eleven tunes from four of today’s finest harp players. This is not a compilation CD, but rather features the harpists in various combinations in session with a killer band, including Kid Bangham on guitar, Anthony Geraci and David Maxwell on piano, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and Per Hanson on drums. It starts cooking right from the get-go with Norcia and Branch on "I Put My Baby Out," and the pace never lets up until Norcia and Musselwhite tear it up on the acoustic "Life Will Be Better" (When you’re not in it). Cotton is right in the groove with Branch for "T.D.’s Boogie Woogie," and Branch and Norcia play one of the best versions of "Route 66" you’ll ever hear. (Telarc)

Davell Crawford • Born with the Funk

Multi-faceted New Orleans musical phenom shows off his R&B side with some hard-driving funk ("The Mardi Gras Song," "Going Back Home to New Orleans"), gospel raves, soul ballads and blues. It’s on a little regional label, so if you can find one, grab it. (Mardi Gras)

The Robert Cray Band • Heavy Picks: The Robert Cray Band Collection

Well-chosen selection of 14 songs from the Cray canon. Young Bob has been on the recording scene for 20 years now (hard as that may be to believe), and if you’ve somehow missed his act, this is a great place to start. (Mercury)

Shannon Curfman • Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions

This 14-year-old gal is the latest entry in the "precocious blues prodigy" sweepstakes and yes, she plays guitar and sings with ability beyond her years, and yes, it’s more than a little mind-boggling. A Bonnie Raitt for the next generation? Only time will tell. Features "veteran" Jonny Lang on several cuts. (Arista)

Marcia Devine & the Short Fuse Blues Band • A Little Good News

Not much good news here — standard bar band/blues-diva fare. (Fat Ol’ Leroy )

Ola Dixon • Labor of Love

Drummer Ola Dixon, with some 20 years’ experience playing behind the likes of Paul Oscher, Jimmy Rogers, Big Walter Horton and Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, puts out the first recording featuring her vocals. Fine performances by a stellar lineup of NY studio cats —Jimmy and Jerry Vivino, Brian Bisesi, Randy Lippencott and Dave Maxwell — add to the fun, Dixon gets only passing marks for her singing on the first few cuts but improves on Jay McShann’s "My Darkest Night." Her funky version of Elmore James’ "Baby Please Set a Date" manages to get under one’s skin a bit, but it’s hit and miss throughout the 12 tunes presented here. (Severn)

Little Arthur Duncan • Singin’ With the Sun

"Reminds us what the blues can be like when it is played to liven up a Saturday night and not as a career decision. Duncan is a good singer and an adequate harp player, but his enthusiasm is what carries the day." [Felten] (Delmark)

Big Al Dupree Featuring Hash Brown • Positive Thinking

"Dupree and guitarist Hash Brown stroll through a dozen tunes, most of which feature Dupree’s jazz-drenched piano and saxophone stylings as much as they do Brown’s ode-to-T-Bone accompaniment. Dupree’s story-telling vocals are deep, rich and delightfully understated. He sings, he doesn’t shout." [Ranney] (Fedora)

Sleepy John Estes • Sleepy John Estes in Europe

Recorded in Copenhagen and London on the American Folk Blues Festival tour in October 1964, two years after his rediscovery, Estes is at his peak with playing partner Hammie Nixon on harp and jug. Estes’ acoustic blues are tinged by the first-time experience of European travel and include the newly-composed "Denmark Blues" as well as the never-before-released "JFK Blues." Some of his best recorded work. (Delmark)

Family Style • Live Style!

Italian Blues? Seems like the West Coast sound (James Harman meets Rod Piazza) is really popular all over Europe, and they are starting to figure it out. Guitarist Marco Limido and his brother on harp and vocals are at the core of the band captured here live, and there are no accents to get in the way. A respectable job with fine playing all round, but not particularly unique unless you consider they are not from California. (Blue Flame)

Lee Fields • I Got a Problem

Fields’ self-produced CD is a throwback to old school R&B with more than a little debt to the Godfather of Soul. No question that he’s got the vocal chops; with major league production he could turn out a disc that’s a lot more soulful than most of what gets by in the soul-blues field. (BDA Records)

Terry Frank • Blues in the Night

A fine outing for this 20-year veteran of the Milwaukee blues scene. Frank plays a mean guitar, and this collection of 11 tunes includes originals and covers like Little Charlie Baty’s "Eyes Like a Cat," Roy Rogers’ "Red Hot," and Albert Collins’ "Honey Hush." They rock the house in local clubs, which is the frame of reference for this recording. A few too many choruses of guitar solos on each song for a CD, though. (Ho-Made)

Steve Freund • "C" for Chicago

"First disc as a leader since 1987 for Sunnyland Slim’s former guitarist showcases Freund’s loose yet no-nonsense playing style. The CD gets better and better as it goes along." [Wickstrom] (Delmark)

Larry Garner • Baton Rouge

"Great stuff from Garner and guitar cohort Larry McCray. Listenable, danceable, talkin’ to you on the street where you live. The musicianship is solid, but it’s there to serve the music, and every track is buoyed by Garner’s consistently streetwise but positive philosophy:" [Huchtemann] (Evidence)

Ursula George • Blue Basics

Modest Rhode Island acoustic guitar/harp duo does the blues lounge/buskers trip on "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Key to the Highway." Competent if not earthshaking. (Tommy Tiger)

Sax Gordon • You Knock Me Out

"Gordon growls, honks, bleats and blaps on 13 tunes that for the most part are rollicking fun and dancer-friendly. It’s a set performed with exuberance by a group of serious musicians." [Schuller] (Bullseye Blues)

Marty Grebb • Smooth Sailin’

Well-connected veteran sax man delivers a star-packed session, featuring Doyle Bramhall II, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and members of Little Feat, but the celebrity guests don’t overshadow Grebb’s soulful vocals and punchy horn-driven arrangements. A solid effort. (Telarc)

Liz Mandville Greeson • Ready to Cheat

Blues Diva alert: This Greeson woman is a party animal. Jim Beam, reefer and big, tall men tickle her fancy. And don’t go breakin’ her heart, ’cause mama don’t take no mess. Effective Chi-Town backing band makes sure you get the message: This is one rockin’ lady. (Earwig)

Rich Harper Blues Band • Bottled Up Blues

Harper is a guitarist with some talent, but this bottle is just a little too flat to really slake that thirst for blues with an edge. (Kanawha St.)

Dave Harris • Going Home

A well-known local entertainer and busker from Victoria Island, B.C., Harris sings and plays six-and 12-string guitars, steel body, slide, mandolins, fiddles, harmonica and foot-operated drums on 16 "original" tunes. He’s a bit folksy sometimes but gets the feeling on his tribute to John Lee Hooker and John Hammond, "I Never Felt Like This Before," although his vocals are weak. His lyrics in "The Long Hair Blues Medley" seem to indicate some bitterness at his non-acceptance in "the good old boys blues club," but he shouldn’t feel that way. It’s not always blues, but it is original music. (Slim Chance)

Keef Hartley Band • Not Foolish Not Wise

After leaving John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in the late ’60s, drummer Hartley put out one brilliant album (Halfbreed) and several other solid ones, using the blues as a starting point for jazz-rock excursions. Half the tracks on this disc are live versions, but all unfortunately share a flat, muffled, monaural sound that spoils the sundry musical treats. (Mooncrest†)

Catfish Hodge • Twenty Years

From the full-on electric band boogie of "The Boogie Man" to the haunting solo acoustic blues of "Twenty Years," Hodge’s performances display maturity. Careful, though: It sounds a bit close to country when he plugs back in on the electric "Six O’Clock News," co-written with Paul Barrere, and closer to rock on "To the Left." (Chicken Legs Music)

Scott Holt • Messing With the Kid

Strat slinger Holt hooks you with his tribute in guitar tone and style to SRV and Hendrix, but the ballad "I Still Love You" sounds like it was written for soft-rock radio play. It’s well-done blues-based rock until Holt slaughters Hendrix’s "Who Knows." (EMC)

Tom Hunter • Big Thunder

"The piano man extraordinaire has toured and/or recorded with Little Sammy Davis, Bill Perry, Bernard Allison, Mary Cutrufello and others. If you like your blues jazzy and your jazz bluesy and you can’t get enough great piano playing, keep your eyes and ears open for Tom Hunter." [Wickstrom] (Screamin’ Willie)

Egidio "Juke" Ingala • Nite Life Boogie

More Italian blues, but this one’s got a cool groove that combines Ingala’s West Coast-influenced harp playing with Alex Schultz’s fine guitar work that has helped define that sound on Alex’s many recordings with Rod Piazza and William Clarke. What makes it unique is that Ingala does NOT try to lose his accent —giving it an altogether new and fresh sound. Cuts like "If You Love Me Baby," swing with a tasty flair. (Stumble)

Larry Jackson & the Holics • Believe It Or Not

Infectious West Coast blues outing highlighted by Jackson’s catchy originals and economical, silky-smooth guitar work, with a solid rhythm section kicking things into high gear. (Far West Mississippi Recordings)

Frank James Band • Midnight Show

Earnest blue-collar outfit needs a little more zip to make this midnight show worth staying up for. (JimJam)

Jimmy Johnson • North/South

"Johnson shows himself to be a flashy, funky guitarist and a captivating songwriter on this 1982 outing. He’s also a darn good soul shouter, which is no surprise since his brother is the Memphis-affiliated soul singer Syl Johnson." [Robins] (Delmark)

Curtis Jones • Lonesome Bedroom Blues

"His playing and singing gain richness from their contrasts on this 1962 session: The piano playing is precise and clear, the singing a soulful slur. His range can be startling." [Robins] (Delmark)

Lloyd Jones • Love Gotcha

"It’s an eclectic and frankly brilliant synthesis of blues, funk and R&B featuring nine of guitarist/vocalist Jones’ originals that successfully cross-breed the artist’s several influences, often within the same song." [Cianci] (Blind Pig)

Jonathan Kalb • Shadow of a Man

The fact that these sides were recorded variously in London, Paris and Denmark pays sad testament to the fact that so many fine blues musicians must go to Europe to make a living. With just bass and drums accompanying his strong guitar and vocals, Kalb avoids clichés and stays right in the pocket, moving comfortably from the acoustic title track to the funky "Blues Survivor" to the reggae-influenced "Silver Wind" and the self-describing "Mr. Shuffle," with overdubbed organ also played by Kalb. (Saloon Recordings)

Kerry Kearney • Kerry Kearney

Kearney sings and writes well, has considerable chops on both acoustic and electric slide guitar and has a crack band. Good contemporary blues from this newcomer from New York. (Palmetto)

B.B. King • Let the Good Times Roll: The Music of Louis Jordan

"Louis Jordan may have been a ’40s jump-blues pioneer who set the stage for rock’n’roll with his neighborhood fantasies and warm, clowning spirit, but this is B.B. King’s album. King not only gives beloved Jordan classics new insight and spirit, he reveals a surprising amount about himself." [Knopper] (MCA)

Willie King & "Birmingham" George Connor • Walkin’ the Walk, Talkin’ the Talk

No-frills, undiluted back-porch blues, Southern style, from this Alabama duo who truly sound like they’ve walked the walk more than a few times. Check out the monologue on "Willie’s Story" for a taste of how King grew up and came to embrace the blues as a way of life.

Big Daddy Kinsey • Ramblin’ Man

Lester Kinsey recorded this in 1994 with son Donald on guitar and a host of old friends, including John Primer on guitar, Johnnie Johnson and Charles Hodges on piano, Johnny Gayden on bass, Willie Smith on drums, Carey Bell on harp, and the Memphis Horns, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love. Covering the full spectrum from an acoustic "Little Rain Falling" to the shuffle beat of the title track, Kinsey lends his distinctive vocal style to 12 tunes, including a duet with Koko Taylor on "Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby." (House of Blues)

Eddie Kirkland • The Complete Trix Recordings

Reissue of Front and Center and The Devil and Other Blues Demons, released in 1973 and 1974, respectively. The former is acoustic, the latter with a band. "The John Lee Hooker protégé’s tracks on these two discs can be spare, moving and spiritually forlorn as any bluesman ever was, but the younger musician never achieves Hooker’s state of transcendent grace." [Robins] (32 Blues)

Eddie Kirkland With the Nutmeg Horns • Movin’ On

Brett Bonner’s liner notes say it well, "Eddie is the real thing. The grease under his fingernails is there because he has worked his ass off his entire life." After a stint in the army and some time spent in the boxing ring, Kirkland hooked up with John Lee Hooker in 1948 and spent the next five years backing up the great bluesman. Years of playing with acts like King Curtis and Otis Redding led him to several of his own hits, and on this record, "Rainbow" should become the next one, featuring outstanding vocals and powerful, original guitar lines. The blues scene needs to pay homage to a talent that’s truly unique — "a trait that’s all too rare in music these days. Too many wanna-be’s and not enough I am’s." (JSP )

Lamont Cranston • Tiger in Your Tank

Re-issue of 1988 release sounds as fresh now, if not better. Good chance to get re-acquainted with the high energy of this consummate house-rockin’ party band. (Cold Wind)

Rocky Lawrence • The Songs of Robert Johnson

Going for the authentic recreation, Lawrence even has the right suit and hat as pictured in the famous photo of Johnson. Lawrence does a respectable job of reinterpreting 12 classic Johnson tunes on this live recording, with only a slight change from the original. It’s been done before. (Highland Sounds)

Karen Lawrence & Blue By Nature • Hard Daze

Straight-ahead, no-frills, acoustic-driven blues-rock, with Lawrence’s suitably raspy vocals riding over the top. (Hostel )

Li’l Lynne and Smokin’ Soles • Troubled Soul

Decent Portland, Oregon swing-blues band sabotaged by its overblown diva of a lead singer.

Little Milton • Welcome to Little Milton

Hard-core fans of Milton may be left scratching their heads over what is an undisguised attempt to gain crossover recognition for this blues treasure. For those already converted, the contributions of G. Love, Dave Alvin, Lucinda Williams, Peter Wolf and the overkill power chops of Govt. Mule are more distracting than complementary. Susan Tedeschi’s duet on "Mother Earth" (with introductory recitation by John Sinclair) is the clear highlight; Delbert McClinton and Keb’ Mo’ are at least on the right wavelength. Still, this is probably a good choice for your friends who would never listen to Milton without the hook of a familiar name. [Rooster] (Malaco)

Trudy Lynn • U Don’t Know What Time It Is

Vocalist Lynn starts out this CD, recorded in Dallas in 1997, with a couple of funky pop-oriented tunes, but she catches the blues ear with her stirring rendition of Leon Russell’s "Help Me Through the Day." Smooth and sultry with moments of gut-wrenching power, Lynn enjoys the backing of Butch Bonner and Bernard Allison on guitars and Lucky Peterson on keys, but the album is more pop/soul than blues (Ruf†)

Dave MacKenzie • Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

MacKenzie plays some nice acoustic slide licks on songs by Arthur Crudup and Furry Lewis and injects his originals with tasteful playing and a wry sense of humor. (Black & Tan†)

Bob Margolin • Hold Me to It

Margolin’s new CD is inspired by his memories of Muddy Waters and the live sound of his latest touring band: Tad Walters on second guitar, harp, and Supro Pocket Bass, Wes Johnson on drums and sister Sherry Margolin on keys. Margolin shows how much he learned at the right hand of Waters and what he’s done with it on this stripped-down, hard-hitting recording undiluted by over-playing and over-production. "Nobody can fill Muddy’s shoes," says Margolin, "but sometimes we can shine ’em up pretty bright!" So he does, with cooking shuffles like "Slam ’Em Down" and the funky "Consolation." His raunchy slide sound is showcased on "Stick Out Your Can," but the highlight is surely when he goes back to the roots for "Wee Baby Blues" with Kaz Kazanoff on harp and Muddy’s son Big Bill Morganfield joining him on guitar and vocals. (Blind Pig)

Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers • Winning Hand

West Coast vets dedicate this winning blues-rock set "for the fans." It suffers from overly modest production values, but the band’s enthusiasm cuts through. (Blues Rock)

Randy McAllister • Double Rectified Bust Head

Is this guy the new king of Texas harp? That’s a tall order, but Randy may be up to it, and he’s got lots of well-known Texans on board: Danny Cochran, Hash Brown, Smokey Logg, Texas Slim, Chuck Rainey and John Street are just some of the talents featured variously on the 13 tracks. McAllister’s harp sound ranges from the tasty acoustic tone on "S on My Chest" to full-blown electric on "Baseball Bat." (JSP )

Kathi McDonald • Above & Beyond

Kathi McDonald worked with Ike and Tina Turner, Leon Russell and Joe Cocker during the ’70s, and her pipes are still in great shape on this CD. She sinks her teeth into the blues/R&B material without tearing it to shreds, and Lee Oskar’s harp and production work are icing on the cake. (Merrimack)

Loretta McNair & Blues of the World • Loretta McNair & Blues of the World

This EP showcases the vocals of McNair on three originals and one cover from pianist Luther Tatum. Herbie Hancock is quoted on the cover, saying "Her voice is clear with a beautiful balance between warmth and edgy power." The warmth is apparent, but not the power. More like pop ballads than blues.

Memphis Minnie • Black Widow Stinger

From recordings spanning 1931–1941, the most storied of female country blues singers/guitarists is joined by her two guitar-playing husbands, "Kansas City Joe" McCoy (1931–1936) and "Little Son Joe Lawlers" (1939–1941), on the bulk of these tracks. In between, the accompaniment features piano players Black Bob and Blind John Davis. (Indigo†)

Chris Michie • Tough Love

Veteran Bay Area singer/guitarist’s CD is a smooth, self-assured contemporary blues romp, driven by Michie’s clean, liquid lead work. (Catch A Rabbit)

Willie Mitchell • Soul Serenade: The Best of Willie Mitchell

When they talk about that Memphis horn sound, they’re usually referring to the one first created by trumpeter, producer, arranger, composer and bandleader Willie Mitchell back in the 1940s. His ’60s-’70s productions on Al Green, Ann Peebles, and other members of the Hi Records stable are legendary, but his instrumental recordings featuring the studio band are lesser known. Here are 20 sides by the band that demonstrate its mighty groove, and it’s hard to keep still. Compare this with their Memphis contemporaries at rival Stax Records, Booker T and the MGs. (The Right Stuff)

The Mofo Party Band • Call the Doctor!

West Coast outfit is a fine straight-up party band, kicked into high gear by the appearance of guitar ace Kenny "Blue" Ray on several cuts. (Vivid Sound)

Teddy Morgan and the Pistolas • Lost Love and Highways

Austin-based Teddy Morgan steps out with his new trio featuring Jon Penner on bass and Chris Hunter on drums, and this hard-driving collection, recorded and mixed in Minnesota, shows that he’s incorporated the Texas sound — with some influence from Louisiana rhythms on the opening tune, "Bullet From a Gun." But Morgan moves in a decidedly country direction on "Lost Love and Highways" and doesn’t vary too far from that for the rest of the disk. He does deliver some rockin’ Texas blues on a couple of tunes, but the emphasis is on the country sound. I’ll bet the next place we see him is on Austin City Limits. (Hightone)

Ollie Nightingale • The Best of Ollie Nightingale

This album offers highlights of the late singer’s four Ecko albums, featuring party-flavored soul-blues hits like "I’ll Drink Your Bath Water, Baby" and "You’ve Got a Booger Bear Under There." (Ecko)

The Nightporters • Rollercoaster

First release from this UK group is a high-energy R&B-fueled romp that’s guaranteed to get the pubsters rockin’ and dancing up a storm. (Indigo†)

Johnny Nocturne Band With Kim Nalley • Million Dollar Secret

West Coast saxophonist John Firmin’s band (there is no Johnny Nocturne) is an eight-piece swing group with taste and finesse. Young singer Kim Nalley mines material from Helen Humes and Billie Holiday with a vocal style combining the best of Humes and Dinah Washington. Firmin’s tenor sax is pure and powerful, invoking Ben Webster at times — check his solo on "Comes Love." Top notch on every cut. (Bullseye Blues)

Chris Nole • Barrel House Boogie Piano

Nole’s piano playing and original compositions are a nice homage to the boogie-woogie idiom, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before and fails to deliver any transcendent moments. (Roadhouse )

Doug Norquay • Poisonous Road Snakes

Solo acoustic slide and vocals on 13 tunes recorded in Ontario, Canada. Norquay‘s voice will send you out the door, and there’s no hot guitar playing to offset it. His tune "Fred McDowell" will have the old boy turning in his grave.

Odetta • Blues Everywhere I Go

"This beloved folk heroine hasn’t lost even a fraction of a pitch, and the Birmingham, Alabama-born singer is still strong and confident enough to hold together a veritable history lesson of classic blues styles." [Knopper] (MC)

One Eyed Cat • Nasty Shake

Jerry Scaringe’s harmonica and vocals share the spotlight with guitarist/singer Michael Olivieri on 13 cuts. They do a version of Chuck Berry’s "Thirty Days" that sounds as country-bumpkin as you could get, and when the band gets into an almost West Coast groove on "Hop, Skip & Jump," Olivieri’s vocals are too affectedly "down-home" to pull it off. This disk gives new meaning to the saying, "Just because you can, don’t mean you should." Keep the day jobs, guys.

Lisa Otey • Gimme Some a Yo’ Sugar!

Humor sets this one apart from the rest: "Got My Modem Workin’," sung to the tune of Muddy’s classic (ouch!), and a blues reading of "Green Eggs & Ham" (stop, please!). Otherwise, Otey delivers standard jazz/blues fare and piano ballads. (Owl’s Nest Productions)

The Johnny Otis Rhythm & Blues Caravan • The Complete Savoy Recordings

Johnny Otis held a central position in the rhythm and blues scene of the ’50s, and from this three-disc set it’s easy to understand why. No less than 15 of these songs made it into Billboard’s R&B Top 10 between 1950 and 1952. Among the supporting cast are vocalists Little Esther (Phillips), Linda Hopkins, Mel Walker, the Robins (later the Coasters) and Marilyn Scott. The instrumental cast includes pianist Devonia "Lady Dee" Williams, Bill Doggett, Paul Quinichette, Pete Lewis and Big Jay McNeely, with Otis contributing on drums, vibes and vocals. (Savoy Jazz)

Rob Roy Parnell • Jacksboro Highway

Harpist Parnell sings and plays his way through a well-thought-out song list, including a great cover of Willie Dixon’s "Crazy Mixed Up World" where James Pennebaker’s guitar sounds so ’50s it perfectly matches Parnell’s harp. While they sometimes lean towards the country-western side of the Texas blues sound, they prove they can mix it up with rockin’ slide guitar and Waylon Jennings’ vocals on the boogie "Jacksboro Highway." (Blue Rocket)

Davey Pattison • Mississippi Nights

Pattison injects some of his inherent Scottish highland soul into this collection of blues balladeering, his big voice soaring over and through the mostly acoustic guitar-driven grooves. (Sherang)

Pinetop Perkins • Live at 85!

"Perkins sounds positively thrilled to mix it up and jam it out with these talented younger musicians. Recorded in 1998, this 10-song set boasts clear, cozy sound and a small-club ambience that accentuates Perkins’ affable relationship with both his band and his adoring audience." [Burke] (Shanachie)

Piano Red • The Flaming Hurricane

William Lee Perryman, known variously as Piano Red and Dr. Feelgood, played fierce barrelhouse piano right up until his death from cancer in 1985. Here now on CD are 11 previously unissued recordings, including "Dr. Feelgood," Shake Rattle and Roll," "Corrina, Corrina" and others which demonstrate the pianist’s distinctive style. (Westside†)

Alan Price and the Electric Blues Company • A Gigster’s Life for Me

British blues/rock veterans Alan Price, Zoot Money and Bobby Tench deliver a workmanlike set of standards ("Boom Boom," "Rockin’ Pneumonia") alongside contemporary tunes by Jackson Browne and Eric Clapton. Tasteful and respectful, but there’s no sparks flying. (Indigo†)

Yank Rachell • Yank Rachell

The "Blues Mandolin Man" played with John Estes, Sonny Boy Williamson, Homesick James, Honey Boy Edwards, Robert Lockwood, Jimmy Walker, Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, Taj Mahal and many others during his long recording career. These 1973 Indianapolis recordings made for the Blue Goose label recreate his original country blues sound on guitar and mandolin with "Matchbox Blues," "Shotgun Blues," "Diving Duck Blues" and other blues classics. (Random Chance)

Randall Lee Rainwater • Rainwater Rd

Rainwater’s Appalachian roots show throughout this fine set. His plaintive acoustic slide and lap guitar work illuminates some excellent originals and classics by Josh White and Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Duke Robillard & Herb Ellis • Conversations in Swing Guitar

Undoubtedly one of the finest guitarists ever to play the blues, Robillard teams up with one of his own long-time idols, Herb Ellis, just as unquestionably a seminal figure in the world of jazz guitar, for seven instrumental cuts that epitomize finesse and good taste. They set the tone for the entire session with the opening cut, Benny Goodman’s "Flying Home, and carry on a true conversation in music — no one-upsmanship, just a series of friendly jams where each takes a piece of what the other has just played and reinterprets it with intelligence and respect. Refined and subtle, the music offers new delights and discoveries after repeated listenings. (Stony Plain)

Mighty Mo Rodgers • Blues Is My Wailin’ Wall

Rodgers’ testifyin’ comes with socially conscious lyrics and some nice sonic textures: Rainstorms, cheering crowds, African percussion, and dramatic drones accent the straight-ahead blues numbers. Makes for an interesting listen. (Blue Thumb Records)

The Robert Ross Band • Lightness to Dark

Guitarist/singer Robert Ross, bass player Mark Dann and drummer Howie Wyeth, denizens of the infamous Dan Lynch’s Blues Bar in New York City, are captured live back in 1993 just before the place was condemned and shut down. (Brambus )

Jimmy Rushing & Friends • Every Day

This compilation features selections from Rushing’s 1950s Vanguard LPs produced by the legendary John Hammond. It’s a treat to hear Rushing’s big voice celebrating the blues over some madly swingin’ jazzbos. If you haven’t checked him out, here’s a great place to start. (Vanguard)

Johnny Sansone • Watermelon Patch

"A disc that illuminates Sansone’s ample talents on harmonica and accordion and puts down a powerful house-party vibe that speaks to your soul and gets into your feet. The fine talent Sansone has assembled here comes through like a roomful of friends getting together for a musical affair of the heart." [Huchtemann] (Bullseye Blues)

Peggy Scott-Adams • Undisputed Queen

Scott-Adams’ strong-willed persona and muscular vocals come across loud and clear over this set of slick, funky blues grooves and R&B-pop ballads. With songs like "Let the Door Hit Ya!" and "Mommy’s No Dummy," you probably know what to expect. (Miss Butch)

Shri • See Shri Play the Blues …

This two-CD release showcases the band Shri, featuring the sometimes remarkable vocals of Deborah Auletta. The material is all over the map, from originals to covers of "I’m a Man," "Voodoo Chile," "Smokestack Lightning" and "Sweet Little Angel." While the band’s takes on these classics make for interesting listening, this CD would have been better served by featuring only the original compositions and Auletta’s best vocal performances. (Bad Poets)

The Sky Blues • The Sky Blues of Boston Live

It’s live barroom blues from the four-piece Sky Blues, with Bill Mason on vocals and guitar, Ruby Mason on vocals, keys and harp, John Bridge on bass and Philip Harris on drums. The predictable covers include "Before You ’Cuse Me," "Night Time Is the Right Time," "I Put a Spell on You" and "Mustang Sally." There’s some tasty guitar work from Mason. (Second Story)

Holland K. Smith • Walking Heart Attack

Solid, mostly self-penned serving of Texas blues by guitarist Holland — and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Anson Funderburgh in the producer’s chair. (TopCat)

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith • Nothin’ But the Blues Y’All

"This set finds harpist Al Lerman and his supple Canadian band backing Muddy Waters alumnus Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith in a tight but somewhat predictable collection of Smith originals and Chicago classics recorded in Toronto in late ’98 and early ’99. Smith sounds good, his playing is dead on, and the band is tight and focused." [Ellis] (Juke Joint)

George Stancell • Gorgeous George

"Stancell is a Milwaukee-based singer and guitarist whose music calls to mind the kind of R&B cut in the ’60s by small Southern Stax-influenced labels. He’s talented and confident on vocals and guitar, and he shows considerable skill at interpreting fresh material." [Schuller] (JSP†)

Sunnyland Slim • Smile on My Face

"If you prefer your blues piano with chaser rather than straight, Slim benefits from the one-two punch of guitarists Lacy Gibson and Lee Jackson and the fundamentally solid rhythm section of Willie Black (bass) and Fred Below (drums) in these 1977 recordings." [Robins] (Delmark)

Tampa Red & Big Maceo • Guitar & Piano Duets

Twenty-four sides recorded by the masterful guitar/piano duo between 1941 and 1946 — some of the best acoustic slide guitar with piano from that era. This collection provides a wealth of material for modern players to mine, and artists of today could take lessons from these musicians in how to avoid overplaying while still filling up a blues sound with just two guys. (Indigo†)

Jon Tiven GroupYes I Ram

Strong songwriting team of guitarist Jon (producer of Wilson Pickett’s acclaimed It’s Harder Now CD) and bassist Sally Tiven get to strut their stuff in a solid four-piece band fronted by vocalist Alan Merrill. Nice mix of skanky Howlin’ Wolf rhythms with blues-rockers and ballads. Additional background vocal support from Vernon Reid, Noel Redding, Sir Mack Rice, Peter Wolf and Jim Carroll.

Kenny Traylor • Somethin’s Gotta Change

Texas guitarist’s second CD is well played but lacks punch — could be the overabundance of ballads and drowsy tempos. (TopCat)

Jon Turk • My Special One

Guitarist Turk gives us ten well-played and-sung originals that are more soul/pop with a leaning toward funk than blues. (Roach)

Troy Turner • Blues on My Back

"Troy’s first recording in years is a mixed bag that presents many different sides of his playing and singing. The one constant — his clean, ringing guitar — is often engaging and frequently full of ideas. But the song selection is all over the place and often works against him." [Ellis] (Telarc)

John Ussery and the Full-Tilt Blues Band • Cryin’ and Screamin’

Ussery followed Eric Clapton as Delaney Bramlett’s guitarist but quit music in 1975, not returning until the Texan was coaxed back to work in 1990. His second CD since his return has him leading a tight six-or seven-piece band with horns through ten originals. Ussery’s in fine form, playing some excellent guitar in arrangements that are not as guitar-heavy as might be expected — most important, he knows when NOT to play. His vocals are equally understated when they need to be, yet growling at the right moment. (Full Tilt)

Various Artists • Aus Deutschen Landen Blues auf Den Tisch

A collection of 18 tunes by a variety of German blues bands, including Blues Company, Hamburg Blues Band, Cadillac Blues Band and Tommy Schneller, among others. While some cuts are surprisingly close to the mark, there is some singing in German, and it just doesn’t sound right. (Inakustik†)

Various Artists • Blow’n the Blues: Best of the Great Harp Players

Vanguard raids its vaults to assemble this fine compilation of wailin’ harp masters including Junior Wells, James Cotton, Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite and others. (Vanguard)

Various Artists • Blues at Kerrville

Live festival performances from Dave Van Ronk, Gatemouth Brown, Roy Book Binder, Marcia Ball, Josh White Jr. and others are collected here. Unfortunately the recording quality is poor, with everyone but the softest singer’s vocals (Josh White Jr.) clipping so bad you can’t bear to listen, and the balance of instruments often way out of whack. Too bad, as there are some great performances they tried to capture. (Silverwolf/Kerrville)

Various Artists • Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band

CD reissue of 1972 compilation of singles released on Rev. Houston H. Harrington’s Atomic-H label, expanded to include unreleased gems not included on your dusty vinyl copy. Sunnyland Slim, Eddy Clearwater , Harmonica George, JoJo Williams and others contribute to this brilliant "explosion of nuclear-powered Chicago blues from the late ’50s." (Delmark)

Various Artists • Deep South Blues

Resurrection of the obscure High Water label’s 1980s recordings of current icons such as Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside , Jessie Mae Hemphill and lesser-known artists mining the same vein. A revelation for fans of this genre of raw, lo-fi blues. (HMG/High Tone)

Various Artists • Earwig Music: 20th Anniversary Collection

Two-CD set is a tribute to Michael Robert Frank’s life-long dedication to documenting Chicago’s vital blues community via the Earwig imprint. This is a great jumping-off point for the uninitiated and a reminder of the great Earwig legacy. Features the Jelly Roll Kings, Louisiana Red, Sunnyland Slim and others. (Earwig)

Various Artists • Expressin’ the Blues

Timothy Duffy spent a lot of time roaming the Southeast to root out the aged and infirm artists of days gone by and record them while they were still alive. The names of the artists may be unfamiliar, but this compilation of 21 field-recorded takes, all remastered to high standards, documents over 100 years of musical styles we today call country blues. (Cello)

Various Artists • Folk, Gospel & Blues: Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Two-disc set that was part of Sony’s ambitious, even backbreaking advertisement for itself, Soundtrack for a Century. Disc one would be of the greatest interest to blues people. It’s got ancient rarities like "Ezekiel Stole the Wheel," by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the wonderful absinthe hallucination that is Mamie Smith’s "Crazy Blues." But disc two is strictly pandering to the company’s catalog: Things get not just dicey, but corny: New Christy Minstrels, Eric Andersen, Shawn Colvin, Indigo Girls … In fact, this vanity enterprise can be summed up in two words: "Dan Fogelberg." [Robins] (Columbia/Epic/Legacy)

Various Artists • Frett’n the Blues: Best of the Guitar Greats

They weren’t kidding with the title of this one: Any album boasting cuts by Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters can’t help but be good, especially since it focuses on their ’60s work for Vanguard. Great collection. (Vanguard)

Various Artists • Gonna Take My Rap: The Essential Recordings of Post War Chicago Blues ’45–’49

Documenting the birth of the Chicago Blues genre, with 22 tunes by the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, James Clark, Jazz Gillum, Memphis Minnie, Eddie Boyd, Muddy Waters, Tampa Red, Willie Smith and more. A goldmine of material for today’s players. (Indigo†)

Various Artists • The Greatest in Country Blues

Reincarnation of a three-disc set compiled by Johnny Parth of Document Records that last appeared in the U.S. in 1992 on the Story of Blues label. The most recent track, by Lightnin’ Hopkins, is from 1955, and recordings from the ’20s predominate, so don’t expect any modern sounds. Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tommy Johnson, Son House, Blind Willies McTell and Johnson, Willie Brown, Furry Lewis, Texas Alexander and Rev. Robert Wilkins are among the scores of classic blues artists to be found here. (1201 Music)

Various Artists • Hastings Street Grease: Vol. 2

Detroit is a generally overlooked bastion of gritty urban blues, but the city’s Hastings Street district (immortalized in John Lee Hooker’s 1949 "Boogie Chillen" and demolished in the early ’60s) supported a scene that was as vital as they come. New recordings by veteran Motor City bluesmen Eddie Kirkland, Eddie Burns, Willie D. Warren, Uncle Jesse White and Detroit Fats recall the Hastings Street era in both tale and tone. (Blue Suit)

Various Artists • Living Country Blues: An Anthology

Three-CD set containing 60 cuts is a greatest-hits collection compiled from the 14-LP series Living Country Blues USA, previously issued only in Germany. Recorded in 1980 by Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann, two young German blues enthusiasts who traveled 10,000 miles across the U.S. in a beat-up station wagon with a reel-to-reel tape machine and 180,000 feet of tape that took two and a half months to fill. The 49-page booklet includes biographical info on many of the artists and crisp B&W photos taken by the producers, providing a comprehensive history to accompany their excellent recordings. (Evidence)

Various Artists • Sacred Steel Live!

"This latest Arhoolie recording joins four previous CDs — Sacred Steel, the Campbell Brothers’ Pass Me Not, Jesus Will Fix It featuring Sonny Treadway and Aubrey Ghent’s Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus — in documenting a unique use of steel guitar. It’s a peculiarity of the instrument that the steel can sound like an organ, a human voice, an entire string section, a lead guitar, even a miniature orchestra, and glimmers of all those possibilities are visible here." [Sallis] (Arhoolie)

Various Artists • Standing Room Only: Songs From the Last Roadhouse

Great compilation recorded live at "the last great roadhouse," the Great Notch Inn in Little Falls, New Jersey. Features seven bands including the Raunch Tones and the Son Lewis Band, all delivering straight-ahead roadhouse stylings. (Silk City)

Various Artists • Superblues: All Time Classic Blues Hits, Vol. 4

A solid compilation that’s really more R&B than blues, ranging from Roy Milton’s ’40s jump to Bobby Rush’s ’60s hit "Chicken Heads." In between we get Charles Brown, Pee Wee Crayton, Ruth Brown, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Maxine Brown, Percy Mayfield, Lightnin’ Hopkins and more. (Stax)

Various Artists • Takoma Slide

John Fahey’s Takoma label presents a collection of 13 tunes ranging from Eddie "One String" Jones playing "Rolling and Tumbling Blues" to Fahey’s own seminal 1965 recording of "Poor Boy," Bukka White’s rollicking train song, "New Orleans Streamline," and Son House’s "Preachin’ Blues" to more modern pieces by Michael Bloomfield, Leo Kottke, and Mike Auldridge with David Bromberg and Lowell George playing "Everybody Slides" in 1974. (Takoma)

Various Artists • That Left Coast Is Swinging

Decent compilation of contemporary West Coast blues-swing bands, featuring the feel-good sounds of Lynwood Slim, Red Archibald, Kid Ramos and more. There’s more depth here than one hears from the many retro swing-styled outfits. (Pacific Blues)

Various Artists • Uptown Boogie: The Great Unheard Performances

The big-band boogie craze was dying down for white America following World War II, but record companies were still cutting lots of black pianists to supply the still-thriving black music scene and the need to keep juke boxes filled with new dance material as it became clear that a new music was evolving. Here are 25 instrumental sides featuring artists like Ms. Hadda Brooks, Al Wichard, Bob Mosely, Lucky Henry, Betty Hall Jones, Poison Gardner, Cecil Gant, Dick Lewis and Doc Wiley. (Catfish†)

Muddy Waters • Hoochie Coochie Man

Montreal’s Rising Sun Club must have been the most happenin’ spot in Canada during the ’70s, as evidenced by this casually masterful set recorded by club owner Roue Doudow Boicel. Hear Muddy in fine slow-burn and smoldering form on such classics as "Howling Wolf," "Stormy Monday" and "Kansas City." (Just A Memory)

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins • Back in Business

"Beverly Watkins, now 60, has been playing blues and R&B since the mid-’50s. With the help of producer Mike Vernon, she has assembled a savvy, tightly-crafted collection of dance-worthy blues and R&B." [Powell] (Cello)

West Side Wayne & the Boulevard Band • That’ll Do

Harpist/vocalist Wayne Berwick leads his five-piece West Coast outfit through 13 lackluster tunes with a voice that just doesn’t make the grade. It gets worse when he turns to Debra Berwick for help on the duet, "Walkin’ After Midnight." (Valley Cat)

Josh White Jr. • House of the Rising Son: In Tribute to Josh White

Junior sings and plays tribute to his dad on a dozen of the tunes White Sr. made famous. His slow, haunting rendition of "House of the Rising Sun" will curl some toes as surely as his clear and powerful voice rings each note true on the classic "Blind Man." Solo acoustic guitar and vocals should always sound this good. (Silverwolf)

Michael Williams • Late Night Walk

Williams plays tasty guitar, ably supported by guest stars David "Fathead" Newman, Sugar Ray Norcia and Bruce Katz on this mostly swingin’ blues affair. (Blue Tempo)

Claude "Fiddler" Williams • Swingin’ the Blues

Emphasis on swingin’. Williams and friends — among them New Orleans piano virtuoso Henry Butler — deliver a smooth, mellow, late-night set of jazzy standards including "These Foolish Things" and Duke Ellington’s immortal "Things Ain’t What They Used to Be." (Bullseye Blues)

U.P. Wilson • On My Way

"This is a reissue of Wilson’s first album, originally released in 1988 on the obscure Red Lightnin’ label, with the addition of two wild live tracks. Although originality is not Wilson’s strong suit, he compensates with sheer enthusiasm, verve, and high energy, in both the guitar and vocal departments." [Cianci] (Fedora)


©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA