Blues Access Fall 2000
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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)

Alberta Adams
Say Baby Say

"Pushing 80, Adams has hit her stride. She is more comfortable and commanding on her sophomore effort than on her exquisite debut for Cannonball." [Gallo] (Cannonball)

Eric Bibb & Needed Time
Home to Me

Expatriate Bibb produces a fine-sounding contemporary blues album, does some topical songs, and duets with Taj Mahal on one track, but somehow he ends up just shy of being great. It’s still a good listen. (EarthBeat)

Big Brian & the Blues Busters
Size "Does" Matter

New mix of Southern rock, country, funk, blues and rockabilly with lots of energy. Stratocaster-blaster Big Brian, attempting to be the whole package, also handles most of the vocals, but his singing lacks the conviction that would make this a standout recording.

Black Cat Bone Blues Band
Blues Con Le Mani

Listen, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the blues sung in Italian. This is a credible Euro-interpretation of the Southside sound, but can someone please tell me what "Se Muddy Waters Fosse Qui" is about? (Black Cat Bone†)

Pastor Brady Blade Sr.
The Wakeful & Watchful Eyes: Sermon

This is a document of a Baptist church service and, not to be disrespectful, you have to really be in the mood to listen to the sermon, and music portion doesn’t hold up on its own. (Gospel Jubilee)

The Original Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi
Live From Europe

While Clarence Fountain’s group from Alabama has gained wider crossover popularity, the "other" Blind Boys have been around since the mid-’40s. The current configuration is led by Sandy Foster Jr., a 30-year member, and they deliver the kind of old-time music that has been left behind by the high-gloss production that marks most contemporary gospel. (Gospel Jubilee)

Blinddog Smokin’
More Trouble Than Worth

Wyoming combo trades in a leering, raucous blues-based rock that probably has ’em howling at the local watering hole. (Crying Tone)

Blue Cherry & Friends
Live! One

President of the Las Vegas Blues Society Bill Cherry fronts a band of local nightclub bloozers on this live recording of garage blues with weak vocals. Just because you can does not mean you should. (Blue Castle)

The Blue Link Trio
What I Needed

Bar-band variety ’40s–’50s swingin’ blues from this Australian trio.

Blue Shoe Sole Revue
I Want a German Woman

Harp/vocalist and trombone player Steve Shoemaker fronts the Revue for a dozen tunes, but Washboard Chaz has the only blues voice in the bunch. Maybe this was once a good idea, but everybody plays clichéd licks and contrived grooves. And what true blues band would sing a song called "I Want a German Woman?"

Richard Boals
That’s the Truth

A solid, swingin’ set of burners and ballads by journeyman guitarist/singer Boals, in collaboration with veteran West Coast producer/writer Jimmy Morello. (JSP†)

The Boilers
Tuned Up

A three-piece blues-rock combo with a bit of a country-rock feel that evokes Nashville more than Chicago. (Ranchola)

Roy Book Binder
The Radio Show

Originally aired on WETS-FM in Johnson City, Tennessee, this charming and entertaining program presents Book Binder sharing anecdotes and lotsa tasty acoustic guitar licks in a cozy, backporch atmosphere while hawking his latest CD. (PegLeg)

The Freddie Brooks Band
One Little Word

Vocalist and harp player Brooks mixes the Southern California blues sound with a pinch of Chicago swing. Guitarist Jeff Ross has the real T-Bone Walker style and tone, and the arrangements make you get up and dance. Oh man, this CD really cooks! (King Ace)

Brody Buster
Blue Devil

In this age of precocious guitar heroes, we shouldn’t be too surprised to see the emergence of a blue-haired teenage harp hound. Buster’s not bad, and with a little seasoning, who knows?

Canned Heat

Originally available only as an import, this 1988 recording is one of the best Canned Heat albums since the early ’70s stuff with Bob Hite and the heavy guitar of Henry Vestine. Original drummer Fito De La Parra, Larry Taylor on bass, James Thornbury’s vocals, rhythm and slide guitar and the fine ’50s-vintage lead guitar work of Junior Watson really make this one worth more than a listen. (Varese Vintage)

Michael Chapman
Growing Pains

UK folk-blues mini-legend displays his dark vision on this intriguing compilation of unreleased live and studio work spanning 1966–1980. (Mooncrest†)

Roscoe Chenier
Roscoe Rocks

"Hot sweaty South Louisiana blues" from guitarist/singer Chenier really has that Big Easy feel, with just enough second-line rhythm sneaking into the full band sound to evoke the steamy, otherworldly feel that permeates the New Orleans night. Fine guitar from Eric Sylvester, and the whole band is in the pocket on every cut. (Bayou)

Mick Clarke
New Mountain

UK journeyman has a good rootsy sound, but the vocals fail to ignite the proceedings. (Burnside)

Fred Clayton & the International Rhythm Connexion
Keepin’ the Blues Alive

You know how you can tell when the band is having fun? When the energy transmitted to the listener is high enough to make you dance. A full swing ensemble cooks through some great jump tunes, with choruses like "life is a bitch and then you die." Well played, arranged and produced.

Willie Cobbs

Willie Mitchell’s production delivers punchy, horn-laden arrangements and top Memphis session guys — led by the Hodges brothers — know how to put them to work, but Cobbs often strains to give any nuance to the vocals. On the plus side, there is a nice harp duet with John Weston and effective readings of the blues chestnuts "Black Night" and Willie Mabon’s "Poison Ivy." (Bullseye Blues)

John Cocuzzi Quintet
Swingin’ and Burnin’

Cocuzzi and Co. flash back to the heyday of Bennie Goodman and Lionel Hampton, when swing was king. (Wildchild!)

Albert Cummings & Swamp Yankee
The Long Way

Strat player Cummings fronts a blues-rock power trio in a demonstration of how many notes you can play on a given song. Cummings, a fine guitarist, seems to focus more on the guitar than the music.

Nick Curran
Fixin’ Your Head

Austinite’s successful recreation of ’50s-era rock and rockabilly stylings is marred only by muddy production. (Texas Jamboree)

Ironman Mike Curtis
Doin’ It All Myself

It’s a guitar, bass, harp and drum combo, except the Iron Man just goes into the studio and plays all the instruments himself … at the same time! Surprisingly, he pulls it off with strong vocals, fat harp tone and clean guitar work. (Did I mention he plays nasty slide too?). As you’d expect, he sneaks in some neat little unison guitar licks with harp, and sometimes with his vocal line. The guy is cookin’. (USA)

Daddy Mack Blues Band
Fix It When I Can

Former Fieldstone Daddy Mack plays a nice brand of down-home Memphis blues with a funky edge, ready-made for a night on the town. (Inside Memphis)

Roosevelt Dean
Blues Heaven

Nothing makes you remember a bluesman better than a unique, recognizable vocal style, and Dean has all the right ingredients to mix up a tasty dish with his eight-piece band in the studio. He also does Muddy Waters like no one else. (ZK)

Devil in a Woodpile
Division Street

"Lost in the forest somewhere between Blind Blake and Hee-Haw, the acoustic Chicago quartet returns the washboard to its rightful place next to the harmonica. The whole exhilarating album swings between deadly serious and goofily upbeat." [Knopper] (Bloodshot)

The Big Doowopper
All in the Joy

The blind Chicago street pianist and singer who likes to play in train station tunnels has got a band for this date and runs through a repertoire of blues and soul tunes with a voice that sounds like it’s seen better days, even if he is only in his 40s. The Big Doowopper’s at his best getting that second-line feel on tunes like the opener, "Busy, Busy, Busy." (Delmark)

Christian Dozzler & the Blues Wave

Austrian Dozzler’s heart lies in Cajun country, and he pulls off some credible Zydeco and swamp blues with help from special guests like Katie Webster and Henry Gray. (Blueswave†)

Ronnie Earl
Healing Time

Mr. Earl has always had emotionality to match his plentiful guitar chops, and he lays it on nice and thick with this all-instrumental release. Anthony Geraci and Jimmy McGriff add well-seasoned keyboard support. Put this one on at three in the morning — or anytime you need to be healed by a cool wash of soulful blues and bluesy jazz. (Telarc Blues)

David "Honeyboy" Edwards
Don’t Mistreat a Fool

Honey Boy is in fine voice on these 1969 and 1971 recordings of the living acoustic guitar legend. The sound rings clear, and there’s various instrumental backing from three other blues greats: Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton and Big Joe Williams. (Genes)

Tinsley Ellis

Here we find all the often indescribable elements that separate a first-class act from simply good barroom blues: careful attention to dynamics; tasteful, melodic soloing instead of clichéd, overplayed licks; and, as a bonus, Ellis’ rich vocal style. The core band — keyboardist Reese Wynans, drummer Richie Hayward, David Smith on bass and guitarist Jack Holder — is supported by a much larger cast of backup singers and instrumentalists on a program of mostly original material. (Capricorn)

Scott Ellison
One Step From the Blues

Ellison’s fourth release finds his guitar set on stun with sustained, screaming licks aplenty. (JSE)

Sister Elizabeth Eustis
Walk With Me

Definitive 1962 session from the great New Orleans gospel singer features nine previously unreleased cuts which showcase Eustis’ warm, sincere vocal style, a bit earthier than most sanctified shouters. (Delmark)

Lucky Lopez Evans
Southside Saturday Night

Evans’ expressive vocals and guitar work make this reissue of the one-time Howlin’ Wolf apprentice’s 1989 LP still sound fresh. (JSP†)

Where’s Your Head At?

This five-piece outfit from Canada understands the meaning of "ensemble" playing and the critical importance of dynamics in establishing the groove. John Mays’ convincing vocals front a band that blends R&B with Cajun funk, gospel and just enough rock’n’roll energy to drive it home, producing a unique sound that plucks all the blues strings in your ears. (Electro-Fi)

Sue Foley
Love Comin’ Down

New album is loaded with Foley’s brash vocals and pointed guitar work in a set that won’t disappoint her fans and is bound to make new ones, (Shanachie)

T-Model Ford
She Ain’t None of Your’n

Raw is the best way to describe this unsophisticated, thumping, primal, emotional release. American Primitive, plugged in and turned up loud. (Fat Possum)

Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon
It’s About Time

This outstanding farewell package only makes Hollimon’s recent passing more painful. Fran turns in some of her best singing on disc, and vocals by Hollimon and rhythm guitarist John Marx rise to the occasion. Clarence’s playing just blisters all the way through, and producer Jimmy Morello has crafted 11 fine songs to showcase their talents. This is what great blues albums are made of. (JSP†)

Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band
Ready Or Not

The Frank family band’s ninth self-produced release is a zydeco romp with lotsa contemporary funk elements to spice up the mix. Bona fide fun. (Shanachie)

The Gagan Bros. Band
Live at the Catamount

Geographically and bluesographically, New Mexico is pretty close to Texas. Joe and Tim Gagan apparently switch on and off on vocals, guitar and bass while their buddy Tim Rideout handles the drumming. They’ve got that fat Strat sound a la SRV and, while I’d enjoy a few tunes down at the bar, I’d probably get bored with the vanilla vocals by end of the first set. (6161)

Larry Garner
Once Upon the Blues

"Showcasing his soulful guitar and unmatched story-telling over the sympathetic support provided by his road-toughened backing band, Garner really delivers the goods and could be taking another major step up with this release." [Williford] (Ruf)

The General
Beale Street Swing

The General (Gypsy Carns) mixes his road-gravel voice, acoustic resonator guitar and heavy Delta blues with a born-again Christian message — a bit of a dichotomy, but the blues is about inner turmoil after all. (Nightfly)

Peter Green With Nigel Watson Splinter Group
Hot Foot Powder

This is Green’s second exploration of the work of Robert Johnson, and these all-acoustic interpretations of Poor Bob’s canon are faithful to the originals — but not mindlessly so. Green ably handles most of the vocals, and guests Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin, Honey Boy Edwards and Joe Louis Walker pitch in instrumentally to flesh out various tunes. (Snapper)

Dennis Gruenling & Jump Time
Dennis Gruenling & Jump Time

Relative newcomer blows some mean harp over hot swingin’ grooves. One to watch. (Backbender)

Buddy Guy
The Complete JSP Recordings 1979-82

The trio of albums Guy made for the British label between 1979 and 1982 is a mixed bag, from solid studio recordings to sputtering live efforts. (JSP†)

Bob Hall
Don’t Play Boogie

Oh, but he does play boogie! A unique British institution, Bob Hall gained recognition during his many years with Savoy Brown and has evolved into a magnet for the best talent in the UK. His road show is constantly changing as friends and distinguished blues musicians are drawn to join him for his tours. With careful attention to details in the studio, they’ve come up with a fine recording. (Indigo†)

Pat Hall & the Fat Guys Band
Heart of the Blues

Tight Chicago outfit featuring Steve Doyle on guitar offers up a high-energy jam chock full of low-down and dirty blues, captured live before an appreciative crowd.

Harlem Slim
Delta Thug

Not too often do we get a solo acoustic guitarist who switches from Resophonic to heavy electric slide in the same set. Slim plays some fine acoustic Delta and country blues — highlighted by his simple and elegant version of "Statesboro Blues" — and then, for variety, decides to do the same material with distorted electric guitar over the same harp and bass drum accompaniment.

James Harman Band & Buddies
Mo’ Na’kins Please!

Welcome (and long-awaited) second helping from the 1984–’87 sessions that produced Extra Napkins: Strictly the Blues. All these previously unissued tracks feature smoldering blues from Harman, Kid Ramos and a slew of Los Angeles’ finest. (Cannonball)

Harmonica Shah Featuring Howard Glazer
Deep Detroit

"Equally influenced by Junior Wells and Jimmy Reed, Shah makes blues that are not the least bit pretty — they’re razor and gun-totin’ blues, urban juke joint, sawdust and shell-casing blues." [Gallo] (Bluetrack†)

Corey Harris & Henry Butler
Vü-dü Menz

New Orleans pianist Henry Butler and former Crescent City street singer/guitarist Corey Harris teamed up for a rollicking, down-in-the-dirt exploration of their mutual blues roots, and the two musical voodoo mens found they had a lot in common. A real winner. (Alligator)

Alvin Youngblood Hart
Start With the Soul

"Hart has gone electric in a big way. Most of this is interesting, challenging and occasionally brilliant; some of it is less successful." [Feld] (Hannibal)

Ted Hawkins
The Kershaw Sessions

The late Ted Hawkins was a street singer with a unique soul sound mixed with strong elements of blues and country music. BBC producer Andy Kershaw — like many Brits — was overcome with "Ted Hawkins Fever" when Ted’s Watch Your Step LP hit the UK in 1985. Kershaw made these solo acoustic recordings in both Los Angeles and London, and Ted’s many fans won’t be disappointed in them. (Fuel 2000/Universal)

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Best of the Bizarre Sessions: 1990–1994

Any unearthed material by the larger-than-life Screamin’ Jay is welcomed, and most of this is good stuff: Two songs by Tom Waits, six by Beat Farmer Buddy Blue and a wild version of "Ol’ Man River" that must be heard to be believed. (Manifesto)

The Hitman Blues Band
Blooz Town

Singer/guitarist Russell "Hitman" Alexander, backed by keys, bass, drums and occasionally vibes, plays 10 originals and one Robert Johnson tune on his first CD. The formula is familiar, and so is this refrain: While the guitar work shines, the vocals are only passable. (Nerus)

Rick Holmstrom
Gonna Get Wild

"Holmstrom takes a jazz-inflected, jump-blues approach. He shows off his sharp sensibilities for rhythm, melody and dynamics but is equally capable of tearing into some wickedly stingin’, swingin’, fast-paced solo licks." [Huchtemann] (Tone-Cool)

John Lee Hooker
The Unknown John Lee Hooker

"There’s some great stuff here, surprisingly well-recorded considering that it took place at some white hipster’s dinner party in suburban Detroit at mid-century." [Robins] (Flyright†)

Mark Hummel
Harmonica Party

West Coast blues par excellence, featuring members of Little Charlie & the Nightcats and the Fabulous T-Birds, fills this compilation drawn from harp ace Hummel’s 1984–’93 LPs. (Mountain Top)

The Hwy 41 Blues Band
Where Do I Stand

Tennessee-based five-piece band plays it clean or dirty behind the mood of guitarist Archie Whitehead, who switches from raunchy slide work on "Low Down and Dirty" to a Robert Cray Strat sound on "Tip of the Iceberg." Virgil Ishee’s harp and vocals add necessary flavor, but it’s Whitehead’s guitar work that makes this one worth listening to all 14 cuts. (Moonhog)

Iko Iko

Versatile contemporary blues-based group mixes up styles and tempos with clever songs to keep things interesting. (Little Silver)

Elmore James
The Very Best of Elmore James

Just when you thought Elmore’s work had been reissued in every possible configuration, here’s a Rhino Blues Masters collection that spans many different years and labels, so there’s a good cross-section of the vocal and guitar mastery of the undisputed King of the Slide Guitar. (Rhino)

Steve James
Boom Chang

Here’s some pristine acoustic finger-style blues with influences from the Delta to the Piedmont. James delivers the goods on every cut, with help from Cindy Cashdollar, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Gary Primich and Mark Rubin. Steve’s resonator rings clear with precision and delicacy that will make fellow guitarists green with envy. (Burnside)

Lonnie Johnson
The Unsung Blues Legend

Recorded by Bernie Strassberg on a Wollensak open-reel machine at his home in Queens in 1965, this is the real deal. The song selection may seem mundane — "September Song," "I’m Confessin’," "Summertime," and other well-chewed chestnuts — but Lonnie’s soft voice and stunning facility on the guitar continued to impress in his 76th year. (Blues Magnet†)

Big Jack Johnson & the Oilers
Roots Stew

"The Oil Man returns with his usual delivery of dark, greasy, combustible blues — a potent mixture that can start any motor. But Delta veteran Jack Johnson aims here to prove his versatility, too." [Braun] (MC)

Joe Jonas & University of the Blues
Juke at the Joint

Dallas-based Joe Jonas and his band put on a great show for the inmates at the Huntsville, Texas, maximum security prison, who respond in spite of the 100+ temperatures. The quality of the recording, made with a pair of four-track cassette decks, is a bit poor, but it’s surprising it came together at all.

The Jubirt Sisters
Sing! Sister! Sing!

They look like the Pointer Sisters, but they might as well be the Andrews Sisters once you hear their amateur-hour version of "Satisfaction" and a "Proud Mary" that will have you reaching for Ike & Tina … or the eject button, whichever’s closest. (High Water/HMG)

Candye Kane
The Toughest Girl Alive

Ex-porn star Candye Kane’s been down a lot of back streets in her life, and she doesn’t apologize for anything. She’s up there in front of a real swinging band singing bawdy and original tunes set to first-class arrangements as only the toughest girl alive could. One of the most fun CDs to be heard this time around. (Bullseye Blues)

Kay Kay & the Rays
Lucky 7

Kay Kay sings well enough but is sabotaged by average material.

B.B. King
Makin’ Love Is Good for You

The virile elder statesman of the blues serves up his energetic and upbeat musings on the art of love — and Lucille is as sweet as ever. If you’ve read B.B.’s autobiography, you know he believes every word of the title. (MCA)

B.B. King & Eric Clapton
Riding With the King

"King and Clapton make certain we get a good dose of fancy fretwork at every turn, but it’s the slower cuts that really make this disc worth the price of admission." [Koetzner] (Reprise)

Chris Thomas King
Me, My Guitar and the Blues

Part of the new generation of blues players, King’s soft-spoken vocal style works as well with his solo acoustic dobro sound as with the pieces arranged for the band. The title cut is a soul-style ballad accompanied simply by nylon-string guitar, bass and drums, but King presents a pop-soul tune aimed for radio play, some hip-hop vocals and screaming electric guitar before this diverse collection of sounds is over. Nice. (Blind Pig)


Little Freddie King
Sing Sang Sung

"Little Freddie emerges from his daytime life as a professional mechanic and takes his act to the stage for a whiskey-soaked evening of juke-joint blues. There’s nothing pretty about his voice, but it definitely hits hard." [Taylor] (Orleans)

Knockout Greg & Blue Weather
The Wig-Flipper

This Swedish outfit offers up a pleasant Chicago-style set but is perhaps a little too mild-mannered to set things afire. (Buzz†)

Joe Krown
Buckle Up

"Krown’s all-instrumental program doesn’t improve upon Booker T. and the MGs — don’t talk nonsense, man! — but the eight-year veteran Hammond B-3 player with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown’s touring band jams plenty on originals like "Hot N’ Heavy," "Slippery Noodle" and "Welcome Home." Gate himself shows up for four tracks." [Knopper] (STR)

Bryan Lee
Crawfish Lady

"New Orleans guitarist Bryan Lee cuts loose on his first studio release in five years with the same enthusiasm that makes his live shows so compelling. Ignoring the cold confines of the recording studio, Lee talks to his audience, introduces band members before solos and even shouts words of encouragement when they hit a groove he likes." [Smith] (Justin Time)

Lil’ Band O’ Gold
Lil’ Band O’ Gold

This Lil’ Band is a Cajun supergroup featuring rockabilly guitarist C.C. Adcock, accordionist Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys, drummer and swamp-pop legend Warren Storm, keyboardist and songwriter extraordinaire David Egan, pedal steel player Richard Comeaux, drummer Dave Ranson, and a horn section of Dickie Landry, David Greely and Pat Breaux. They’ve created a nine-headed beast that can shine on virtually any kind of swampy roots material, and they provide plenty of options here. (Shanachie)

Robert Lockwood Jr.
Delta Crossroads

Recorded in December 1999, these 16 tracks capture Lockwood in the prime of his 85 years on Planet Earth. He’s the direct link back to Robert Johnson, and he’s not just a relic, he’s genuine and present in the moment. The selection of material is probably the set you would want to capture in a recording, and he’s playing it the way he plays it today, infused with all the nuances of his long career. (Telarc Blues)

Louisiana Red
Live in Montreux

Unearthed 1975 live recording effectively captures Red wowing an appreciative European crowd with his raw, emotional sound. Haunting. (Labor)

The Mac Daddys
Hooz Yo’ Daddy!

The Mac Daddys’ sound varies widely from heavy electric guitar blues with a dash of funk on "Hoochie Coochie Man" to the pop arranging on "God Bless the Child." Some cuts are studio recordings while others are recorded live, but all lean toward the pop-rock side of the blues. (Happy Guy)

Joe Mack
When I Think About Love

Mack heaps on the guitar licks with glee, but all that dexterity can’t make up for the average songwriting.

Magic Slim & the Teardrops

"While there’s plenty to admire, the tempos frequently lump along and the gleeful exuberance that was so evident on Black Tornado is often missing. And the disc’s short count (only 46:15) should be factored in — that’s LP length!" [Jordan] (Blind Pig)

Johnny Mars
Mighty Mars

Carolina native Johnny Mars now resides in the UK and lends an authentic sound to the Brits who make up his 7th Sun band. His harp playing is forceful and his vocal style needs no encouragement to invoke the mood that real blues will inspire in the listener. (JSP†)

Barbara Martin
A Different View

Martin delivers some nice jazzy torch songs and blues well done, but a little on the light side. (Rare Bird)

Jerry McCain
This Stuff Just Kills Me

This excellent recording showcases McCain’s outstanding harp work and authentic singing style. The 70-year-old native of Gadsden, Alabama, knows how to juke, and his seasoned artistry is enhanced by an outstanding backing band. This stuff kills me. (Jericho)

Mighty Sam McClain
Blues for the Soul

"McClain’s premiere CD for Telarc is a very soulful and dynamic debut — yet another testament to the fact that Sam McClain has earned the Mighty that always begins his name." [Van Vleck] (Telarc Blues)

Delbert McClinton
Don’t Let Go: The Collection

A piece of history: 15 sides recorded in the mid-’60s for Major Bill Smith’s Lecarn label out of Ft. Worth, Texas, featuring that ’60s pop sound sprinkled with a dash of country. (Music Club†)

John Mooney
Gone to Hell

"Mooney’s first studio release in four years finds his basic formula intact: funky New Orleans rhythms punctuated by stabs of electric slide guitar and Son House-influenced vocals." [Powell] (Blind Pig)

Mosley & Johnson
Juke Joint

More an understated affair than a fiery send-off, this album offers some smooth and solid R&B-flavored blues dedicated to the late Bob Johnson. (Malaco)

Mr. Rick & the Biscuits
Mr. Rick & the Biscuits

Rick Zolkower has the focus that sets performing a song apart from simply playing a tune. You can hear it on his reading of Bill Broonzy’s "I Feel So Good," but you may fall hook line and sinker on the next cut, Mr. Rick’s ultra-sweet version of Jelly Roll Morton’s "Sweet Substitute." (Bluestime)

Mud, Sweat, & Beers

Low-down and lo-fi slide-driven good-time music from this Atlanta group.

Charlie Musselwhite
Up and Down the Highway

A modest but winning document of Charlie’s well-seasoned vocal and instrumental dexterity, with guitar and piano backing from Dave Peabody and Bob Hall, recorded during a 1986 European tour. (Indigo†)

Nine Below Zero
Give Me No Lip Child

The legendary Hubert Sumlin helps these British bluesmen capture the Chicago sound remarkably well on the two tracks that feature his stinging guitar. The band lends its own spin to the classic spirit and sound of the South Side blues. (Indigo†)

North Mississippi Allstars
Shake Hands With Shorty

"Hard, punchy guitar licks and heavy-footed drumbeats that hit you just like that first blast of noise when you enter a roadhouse that’s really rocking. Features enough fine, dead-ahead blues that even purists should find something to savor." [Lohr] (Tone-Cool)

Darrell Nulisch
I Like It That Way

The well-traveled R&B crooner offers an adequate, workman-like program that pleases but rarely inspires. (Severn)

Livin’ With the Blues

Described by Pete Seeger as the only woman who could do justice to the songs of Leadbelly, Odetta shines brightly on this collection of some of her best blues performances from the ’50s forward. (Vanguard)

Oklahoma Ollie
To Tell the Truth

Uneven effort that works when the tempo’s up but sounds less convincing on the more revealing slow numbers. (South Side)

Omar & the Howlers
Live at the Opera House

Here’s a heapin’ helpin’ of raw electric Texas roadhouse blues, originally served up to a hometown Austin crowd on a 1987 national radio broadcast. (Phoenix Gems)

Paul Oscher & Steve Guyger
Living Legends: Deep in the Blues

A great collaboration— no frills, just harpman Guyger and journeyman multi-instrumentalist Oscher joined by bassist Mike Lampe for a straight-ahead blues jam. (Blues Leaf)

Dave Peabody & Brendan Power
Two Trains Running

Peabody on vocals and guitar and Power on harp do a respectable job with a repertoire ranging from Blind Willie McTell and Big Bill Broonzy to a few originals in the same spirit. (Indigo†)

Pinetop Perkins
Back on Top

"The combination of soul, blues history, audio quality and musicianship on this outing places this among the very best of Pinetop’s recordings." [Madden] (Telarc Blues)

Piano Red
Dr. Feelgood

He started out backing up Blind Willie McTell in the ’30s, but William Perryman didn’t come into his own until almost two decades later, when he unleashed a stream of hits for Victor as Piano Red and then went on to a second career as Dr. Feelgood. Some of his best-known sides are collected on this CD. Mining for material for your act? Look here. (Delmark)

Rod Price

Remember Foghat, the blues-rockers from the ’70s? Guitarist Price survived and here gets together with his pre-Foghat buddy Shakey Vick on harp for a rocking set of barroom blues. (Burnside)

Di Anne Price
Wild Women

"Never underestimate the power of a good rasp, which Memphis singer DiAnne Price uses to soulful effect on this innuendo-filled tribute to classic blueswomen like Ida Cox and Victoria Spivey." [Knopper] (Go Jazz†)

The Prof
Lone Rider

Pleasant UK blues offering would sound more appropriate at an afternoon tea than at the pub. (Lynch†)

David Raitt & Jimmy Thackery
That’s It!

Vocalist David Raitt (Bonnie’s brother) teams up with old friend and former Nighthawks guitarist Thackery for an outing filled with soul and funk. Fine playing and singing all around, including Bonnie’s back-up vocals on a couple of selections. The band is tight and the recording well produced by Patrick Ford. (Blue Rock’It)

Silent Witness

Ratso’s got some tasty chops, but the guitarist’s material doesn’t quite separate him from the pack. (Riff Rat)

Ryan Reardon & the Levee Breakers
Walking in Golden Sunshine

These boys from northern Alabama blend in a dash of Nashville with their blues that makes it all a tad smoother. (Sundown)

Jimmy Reed
The Very Best of Jimmy Reed

Jimmy’s great Vee-Jay singles have been repackaged in countless ways, most recently on Lost in the Shuffle from 32 Blues. You’ll find the same hits here, with the only surprises being two typically weird Reed instrumentals, "Odds and Ends" and its bookend, "Ends and Odds." Essential for Reed rookies, though. (Rhino)

Dmitri Resnik
Quit Clownin’

Straight-ahead rootsy blues played with restraint and peppered with Resnik’s tasty fretwork. With a bigger production budget, this New Orleanian could go places. (Rusty Nail)

Del Rey
X-Rey Guitar

Singer/songwriter/resonator-guitarist Del Rey shows she knows what goes into a fine recording and selects the best musicians the Northwest has to offer — including Orville Johnson on dobro, Nova Devonie on accordion, Suzy Thompson on fiddle and John Miller on guitar — to help her out, and the great Phil Wiggins on harp imported from back East. Rey’s vocals are smooth and sweet on the mostly original material — sometimes almost too much so. (Hobemian)

Chuck Roberson
Love Freak

Roberson’s a real lover man, and his smooth R&B grooves are the perfect vehicle for his one-track mind. CD rated R. (ECKO)

The Rob Robertson Combo
You’re Comin’ on Too Strong

This six-song instrumental EP is a tasty tidbit of jazzy blues featuring Robertson’s really fine guitar and occasional organ (a great version of "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"). Laid back with an irresistible groove on every track, like the Wes Montgomery Trio meets Booker T. and the MGs. (Sundown)

Rockin’ Daddy & the Rough Cuts
Blues & Tall Tales

Second CD by Minneapolis quartet is a tight and tasteful set of easy-rollin’ shufflers. (Blue Loon)

Robert Ross
Darkness … to Light

"Though veteran Flushing, New York, singer-guitarist Robert Ross has no problem with setting the guitar-solo button to ‘continuous,’ what really stands out on this set is his trio’s upbeat power-pop sound." [Knopper] (Brambus)

Steve Rowe
Driving the Blues Away

Straight-ahead, amiable guitar-driven boogie and blues, courtesy of the nimble-fingered Mr. Rowe. (Howlin’ Blues)

Bobby Rush
Hoochie Man

"Party music built for dancin’ and shakin’. Rush comes out preaching, and almost every song here is a humorous tale put to music." [Ellis] (Waldoxy)

Will Roy Sanders
The Last Living Bluesman

The soundtrack from the documentary film about the life and music of Mr. Sanders, one of the oldest living bluesmen still playing and singing. (Shangri-La)

E.C. Scott

"With a big, horn-driven band propelling her forward, Scott applies her warm, expressive voice to 12 cuts that showcase her honey-to-gravel vocal skills over a wide range of topics." [Smith] (Blind Pig)

Son Seals
Lettin’ Go

"On this emotional soundtrack, the Chicago-based Seals seems content to sing robustly and let his guitar squeal with cathartic high-note relief like a hungry caged force finally allowed to depressurize." [Burke] (Telarc Blues)

Billy Sheets
Wake Up and Live!

A Louis Jordan-Cab Calloway wannabe who writes well enough but whose singing sounds more strained than on his debut disc of bluesy cover tunes. (Big Clock)

Wilmington and Arthur Shuey
Volume One

It’s a fair bet that anyone whose nickname is "Love Whip" probably has a decent sense of humor, and you’ll find it expressed in many of the songs written and performed here by harmonica man Arthur Shuey. He hails from Wilmington, North Carolina, where he’s the founder of the Blues Society of Lower Cape Fear and a driving force on the local blues scene. Arthur’s backed by a variety of competent bands, but his gravelly vocals are, well, an acquired taste.

Sista Monica
People Love the Blues

An excellent CD which firmly establishes Sista Monica among the Who’s Who of blues singers today. Fronting her killer working band, she invites a number of friends — including guitarists Jimmy Thackery, Larry McCray and Danny Caron — to sit in on various cuts, with a host of others as background singers and filling out the horn sections. (Mo Muscle)

James Solberg
The Hand You’re Dealt

Joined on a few cuts by former boss Luther Allison, Solberg makes the most of this outing with a dozen cuts featuring his crisp guitar work and distinctive, convincing vocals. (Ruf)

Dave Specter

"This all-instrumental disc — neither blues nor jazz exclusively, but a blend of each that has yet to be tagged with a genre name — marks the first time the tasty Chicago guitarist has recorded only instrumentals, but, like his friend Ronnie Earl, it clearly suits him perfectly. Blues instrumentals are not just for breakfast anymore!" [Wickstrom] (Delmark)

The Steepwater Band
Goin’ Back Home

Exuberance carries the day on this energetic blues-rock workout from a young Chicago trio.

Jay Stulo
Damn Good Reason to Play the Blues

Guitarist/singer Stulo leads a studio band through 11 originals and one cover on this tastefully produced session. (Proud Cow)

Taj Mahal
The Best of Taj Mahal (The Private Years)

New, digitally-remastered collection of Taj’s best work for Private Records. Country blues, R&B and reggae, performed with equal aplomb. (Windham Hill/Private)

William Tang
Out of the Blue

If you were going out clubbing, you might hope to find a band this good and stay there all night. Nothing really outstanding, mind you, but a tight set of four-piece blues featuring Tang on harmonica and vocals and Patrick Murdoch on guitar. (Blue Wail†)

Koko Taylor
Royal Blue

Koko’s vocals backed by an all-star lineup including B.B. King, Johnny Johnson, Keb’ Mo’ and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Some tunes are better than others, and Koko’s powerful voice is showing more than a little wear and tear around the edges, but the pluses well outweigh the minuses. (Alligator)

Mary Taylor
Victim of Love

Solid debut from Taylor, whose smooth style adds an understated punch to these deep, soulful R&B grooves. One to watch. (JSP†)

Taylor & Martinez
Taylor & Martinez

The solid guitar of George Martinez brings out the best in vocalist Charlotte Taylor, who fronts this five- to seven-piece horn band. Mixing vocal power with some playful lyrics, Taylor & Martinez have got a big sound that stays tight through the hot stepping tunes and the slow ballads. (Hi)

Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band
Bang That Bell

Veteran Chicago guitar-slinger turns in another solid performance, effortlessly sending forth clean and rapid torrents of notes over a variety of blues-based grooves. For lovers of guitar monsters. (Evidence)

Terri & the T-Bones
99 Miles

Blustery diva-blues rock from Santa Monica quintet is nothing new under the California sun. (Juke Joint)

Pete Thelen
Blues Today, Volume II

Songwriter Thelen presents ten of his tunes, including one that he sings himself, performed by a variety of artists and groups. (BT Productions)

Jake Thomas & the Fundamentals Featuring Cindy Brown
Sweet ’n Nasty

"Singer Cindy Brown’s main asset is a belting, crystal-clear voice, and Sweet ’n Nasty makes a noticeable leap in quality whenever she comes around." [Knopper]

Charles Thompson
The Neglected Professor

The term "professor" has long been applied to outstanding piano players and Thompson, who passed away in 1964, fully qualified. Recorded at two different house parties, the 26 short rags presented here sparkle with the Neglected Professor’s brilliance. (Delmark)

Big Mama Thornton
The Complete Vanguard Recordings

"I never thought of Big Mama Thornton as an artist worthy of a retrospective CD, much less the three-disc package treatment. ‘Ball and Chain’ should have taken on transcendent potency but, as always, Big Mama sounds like she’s just singing for another paycheck." [Robins] (Vanguard)

No Nonsense

"This is a great old-school rhythm and blues record. From the first song to the end, Timothea sings it like she means it, with the authority and world-weariness of a woman who has, in the words of one of her songs, ‘Been There Done That.’" [Kunian] (Blue Soul)

Wayne Toups & Zydecajun
Little Wooden Box

Veteran zydeco-rocker delivers a storming, soulful and lively Cajun romp. (Shanachie)

John "Broadway" Tucker
Impromptu Blues

Veteran vocalist Tucker gets a real live feel on this recording, the product of a single afternoon’s work. Yet the experience of the musicians — Bill Heid on piano and B-3, Dave Workman on guitar, David Price on bass and Bill Turner on drums — makes every cut sound crafted and rehearsed. (BlueMovie)

Mitchell L. Turner
Tribute to Daddy

Chicago expatriate returns home to release debut disc that shows Louisiana Red’s tutorship. Nice acoustic slide and harp duets make for an engaging listen. (Jonesey Does Right)

Otha Turner & the Afrossippi Allstars
Senatobia to Senegal

Ageless cane-fife player Otha Turner has one foot planted in the traditions of the Mississippi hill country and the other firmly set in "where are we going next?" Here Otha’s Rising Star Fife & Drum Band connects with Senegalese players of the kora, djembe, djin djun and other African instruments, abetted by guitarist/producer Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. The result is what Jim Dickinson calls "a recording of cultural collision." (Birdman)

Rhett Tyler & Early Warning
Live at Manny’s Car Wash

SRV-style Strat player Tyler packs 17 cuts, all recorded live, into the two CDs that make up this program of in-your-face guitar work and not so great vocals. (Livingston)

Various Artists
Biddle Street Barrelhousin’

Informal recordings of St. Louis piano players Speckled Red, James Crutchfield, James "Stump" Johnson and others, made in the late ’50s. (Delmark)

Various Artists
Blues for a Rotten Afternoon

Thirteen tracks culled from recent Telarc Blues releases by Junior Wells, Terry Evans, Maria Muldaur, Sugar Ray Norcia, Kenny Neal, Son Seals, Lady Bianca and more. (Telarc Blues)

Various Artists
The Bluesville Years, Vol. 12: Jump, Jumpin’ the Blues

Uptempo collection of artists who recorded for the Bluesville imprint in the early ’60s, including K.C. Douglas, Sonny Terry, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Billy Boy Arnold, Homesick James, Jimmy Witherspoon and lots more. (Prestige)

Various Artists
Curiosities: The Ace ’70s Singles & Sessions

You’re not likely to find many of these on your neighborhood juke box, but the 49 songs on these two discs comprise an interesting pastiche of ’70s R&B, soul, blues and rock’n’roll recorded by the recently departed Johnny Vincent for his Ace label out of Jackson, Mississippi. Some of the less obscure artists include Bobby Marchan, Earl Gaines, Dicky Williams, Geater Davis and Lattimore Brown. (Westside†)

Various Artists
Custom Blues for You … Sampler

Compilation featuring John "Juke" Logan, Doug MacLeod and the excellent Delgado Brothers is a fine sampler of rootsy L.A. blues. (Mocombo)

Various Artists
Eugene Blues

"Though it’s uneven, this compilation of Oregon bar bands showcases some real talent — a handy snapshot of the local scene." [Knopper] (Vipertoons)

Various Artists
Hobo Jungle

Better-than-average benefit compilation features a good variety of indie artists who met on the Internet. (Silk City)

Various Artists
I Blueskvarter: Chicago 1964, Volume Two

Olle Helander visited Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis in 1964 to record blues musicians for a 21-part documentary that would be broadcast by the Swedish Radio Corporation. (The title translates as "In the Blues Quarters.") The first six tracks on this volume are apparently the very first recordings of the Butterfield Blues Band (at the time a quartet with Little Smokey Smothers on guitar), and there’s also Washboard Sam, John Lee Granderson, Avery Brady, Little Brother Montgomery, Arvella Gray and St. Louis Jimmy (with Sunnyland Slim and Mike Bloomfield). Interviews with four of the artists round out this superb package. (Jefferson†)

Various Artists
It’s a Beach Thang! Volume 3

ECKO Records’ Greatest Shag Hits include tunes from Barbara Carr, Ronnie Barnes, Quinn Golden, Chuck Roberson, Rufus Thomas and Charles Wilson. (ECKO)

Various Artists
Louisiana Gumbo

A tasty confection of blues, soul and R&B with James Booker, Clifton Chenier, Johnny Adams, the Neville Brothers, Eddie Bo, Snooks Eaglin and more. (Putumayo)

Various Artists

A tribute to that grooviest of instruments, the Hammond B-3. Mostly jazz and funk from Jack McDuff, Joey DeFrancesco, Galactic, Art Neville, Jimmy Smith and more, with some blues by Mike Finnegan and Tommy Eyre. (High Street)

Various Artists
Upside ’n’ Down Tight: Electro-Fi’s Finest, 1997–2000

An Electro-Fi sampler with 15 excellent cuts from Snooky Prior, Mel Brown, Little Mack Simmons, Fruteland Jackson, Johnny Laws, Arlean Brown, Fenton Robinson, Fathead and more. This is a great party CD, with lots of up-tempo dance tunes and the kind of variety you only get on a collection. (Electro-Fi)

Various Artists

A nice collection of mostly contemporary artists: Creole Zydeco Farmers, Keith Frank, Rosie Ledet, Beau Jocque, Boozoo Chavis, Geno Delafose, Chris Ardoin, Queen Ida and lots more. (Putumayo)

The Vipers Featuring Eagle Park Slim
Good Time Live!

Strictly bar-band time — played well enough, but you probably had to be there. (Vipertoons)

Mel Waiters
I Want the Best

Waiters is at the top of the pop-soul genre on this collection of his best cuts from Serious Sounds Records. (Susie Q)

Charles Walker
Leavin’ This Old Town

Much-traveled R&B veteran returns to Nashville to record a winning set of soul and blues and sounds like he hasn’t lost a step. (Cannonball)

T-Bone Walker
T-Bone Blues

The Master defines the sound of the electric guitar on this collection of 22 tracks, from his earliest studio date for Capitol in 1942 through his magnificent Black & White and Comet sides from 1947. (Indigo†)

T-Bone Walker
The Very Best Of: The Classic Black And White & Imperial Recordings 1949–’54

This grouping of 16 masterpieces picks up pretty much where the Indigo set leaves off and represents Walker’s classic period. (Koch)

T-Bone Walker
The Very Best of T-Bone Walker

Hard to go wrong with anything by T-Bone. This set collects 16 songs from the decade between 1946 and 1955, with a handful of duplications from the Indigo and Koch compilations. It’s a good starting place if you’re wondering what this hugely influential guitarist was all about. (Rhino)

Robert Ward
New Role Soul

"It’s a new label and fresh change of scenery for Robert Ward, possessor of the legendary Magnatone amp and prickly staccato guitar sound — down-home, south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line soul with a touch of the blues, as tight and enjoyable as a worn old Stax disc." [Braun] (Delmark)

Muddy Waters

The first half of this single CD features previously unissued recordings from Muddy’s fine 1976 band live in Switzerland, but the second half replicates material from 1971 recently issued by Blind Pig on its Lost Tapes collection — great stuff, with George "Harmonica" Smith in the forefront and a terrific recitation by Muddy introducing "She’s 19 Years Old," but Waters fanatics probably already have it. (Music Club†)

Carl Weathersby
Come to Papa

"The spirit of Albert King and his Gibson Flying V lives on in Weathersby’s guitar work, with its slippery, bent-to-oblivion vibrato riffs, stinging high notes and occasional bassy runs." [Cianci] (Evidence)

Stan Webb
Jersey Lightning

Guitarist Stan Webb (ex-Status Quo, ex-Chicken Shack) captured in the mid-’70s with an interesting collection of blues-influenced rockers. (Indigo†)

Katie Webster /Rockin’ Sidney
The Goldband Years

Classic material by the great pianist/vocalist Katie Webster and zydeco rocker Count Rockin’ Sidney — both sadly departed now — recorded by Eddie Shuler for Louisiana audiences. (Goldband)

James Wheeler
Can’t Take It

Amiable, easy-rockin’ tunes written and performed by guitarist/vocalist Wheeler, backed by a veteran group that includes Billy Flynn (second guitar), Ken Saydak (keys) and Bob Stroger (bass). No real gutbucket blues, but wall-to-wall enjoyable. (Delmark)

Danny White & the Blues Saloon Revue
Beyond Capacity

Bangin’ roadhouse blues, Oklahoma style: tight and ornery. (Lunacy)

Arthur Williams
Ain’t Goin’ Down

It’s the real deal from Williams, who spent over 40 years blowing harp as a sideman in Chicago. His second CD is more true to Williams’ real sound in terms of selection of material (including more originals) and band members (including legendary drummer Sam Carr). (Fedora)

Bob Willoughby
Blues, Booze & Oldtimey Soul

A good late-night CD — Willoughby’s spare piano riffing coupled with his soulful vocals. (Wildchild!)

Cullen Winter & the Blues Band With Sixteen Eyes
Live at the Alley

Singer/guitarist Winter leads his five-piece bar band through 11 saloon standards recorded live at the Alley Cantina in Taos. (Nice Ride)


©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA