Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Cup of Tea

He's done it again. Larry Skoller has put out another superb album of unadulterated Chicago Blues on Raisin' Music record. He repeats the magic laid down by Chicago Blues: A Living History-The (R)evolution continues. The man and this band can absolutely read my mind (and soul) when it comes to my taste in blues music. I've included the official press release (it won't come out until June) to kick things off, because it pretty much tells it like it is. I've included some of my thoughts at the end of this post. Actually, you don't have to read my thoughts, just put it on your wish list if you love this type of blues. I reviewed the previous releases by this aggregation of superb musicians and a search of the archives may turn those up for y'all.

Chicago, IL, April 8, 2011. Raisin' Music is proud to announce that Chicago Blues: A Living History; The (R)evolution Continues will be available in the US on Tuesday, June 7, 2011 via RED Distribution. This deluxe, two CD set follows the award-winning/Grammy-nominated Chicago Blues: A Living History (2009).

The first album was an unprecedented collaboration between Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell and Carlos Johnson, inheritors all of the Chicago Blues tradition. Chicago Blues: A Living History; The (R)evolution Continues brings these legends, supported once again by The Living History Band, back for a second helping of soul-stirring Chicago blues and features very special guests Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Magic Slim, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Mike Avery and Zora Young.

Produced by Raisin' Music's Larry Skoller and recorded by Blaise Barton at Chicago's JoyRide Studios, Chicago Blues: A Living History; The (R)evolution Continues covers the early piano-driven Chicago Blues of the 1940s through to the classic electric-guitar-and-harmonica-driven period of the 1950s. This period laid the foundation for the British Invasion and continues to inform rock and pop music as we know it today.

Chicago Blues: A Living History; The (R)evolution Continues is packaged in an eight panel Digipak designed by Larry Kazal, and includes a 32-page booklet with detailed liner notes and intimate photography by Paul Natkin and Brad Meese. Track highlights include a Billy Boy Arnold led cover of the Lonnie Johnson classic "He's a Jelly Roll Baker," John Primer's take on the Muddy Waters'-penned "Canary Bird," James Cotton's powerful harmonica on seminal rock n' roll cut "Rocket 88" and Buddy Guy's soulful vocal and trademark guitar on Eurreal Montgomery's "First Time I Met the Blues."

Chicago Blues: A Living History is already recognized as the greatest tribute of our time to the Chicago Blues. With this new release, the group solidifies their place in the history of the music and builds on the tribute and its goal to keep the blues alive and well. #######

Okay, first off, a pre-release digital download was kindly sent my way by August Forte. I took it and tranferred it to disc and listened to it for the first time driving down the highway. Like an iTunes download, I have no reference yet as to who's doing what, but have strong assumptions. I do know that when "Rocket 88" began blasting, my thought was "Wow. Someone is nailing James Cotton's harp licks, timbre, and tone wonderfully well." Reading the press release after I returned home explained why. James Cotton IS playing the harp on one of his many blues hits. Same thing happened when I heard the guitar and opening vocals to "First Time I Met The Blues" and knew that it had to definitely Buddy Guy-and it was. He and Cotton, along with Magic Slim, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Mike Avery, and Zora Young, are all guests of the host group of Lurrie Bell, Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, and Carlos Johnson.

And that's the problem with assuming who's singing or playing, but it matters not in the least unless your trying to pass this information on to someone else. Which is sort of what I'm doing, but since I know that Muddy Waters resides in heaven, I do have a pretty good idea that it ain't him singing and playing slide on "Canary Bird", but I do not that John Primer can channel the master's vocals and unmistakeable slide style at will. The press release confirmed this, also. I'll go out on a limb and take an educated guess that it's he doing the same with Jimmy Rogers' "Chicago Bound", and also guess at Billy Branch doing Little Walter's part extremely well.

Since the press release does clue me into Billy Boy Arnold doing the double entrendre "Jelly Roll Baker" and wailing on acoustic harp. I do know Billy Boy's affinity for his ol' mentor Sonny Boy Williamson I's style (he put out a tribute album recently), so I'll tab him for doing the same thing on "She Don't Love Me Like That". I'll put "Got To Leave Chi-town" and the first position harp featured in "Stockyard Blues" on Billy Branch. I have no idea who plays the esquisite piano, though, and won't guess. Whoever it is, knows his book of Otis Spann. My guess is Branch doing the harp meltdowns on "Mellow Down Easy" which seques into "Bo Diddly". Then again, it could be Billy Boy or even Larry Skoller's kinfok, Matthew (who toured with this band).

The guitar playing is outstanding throughout this disc and find it problematic to try to pin down who is bending the strings. Buddy Guy was obvious and I know that Carlos Johnson likes to up the ante with some slingin himself, so Otis Rush's "Ain't Enough Coming In" could possibly be him. I do have a copy of Lonnie Brooks doing "Don't Take Advantage of Me", so my guess is that his son, Ronnie, is kickin' it on the album here. Well, I'd better stop this assuming. You know what they say about people who assume-makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me". So, just get this release and read the extensive liner notes and find out correctly who is credited with what. That's what I'm gonna do. Don't pass this one by. 'Nuff said.

Go to http://www.chicagobluesalivinghistory.com/ for a more complete story, especially after May 10 when they'll put up an updated website.

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