I think I've mentioned before that I've stepped away from writing reviews in regards to blues releases. Just couldn't keep up with the number of cds that folks began sending me. I got really behind when my blog went wonky on me and just don't do it any longer. I don't buy recordings like I once did, but I do grab something every once in a blue moon. Since we've had a couple of those during the past year I thought that I share the few new blues that are in my hands now. Not reviews as such, just some passing thoughts.
First off, I have to mention a fantastic little record shop on Magazine Street called The White Roach. My daughter lives a few blocks away and my son-in-law turned me onto the place. The gal who runs the place has a great stock of vinyl, some rare and some new, including blues and lots of stuff from the Fat Possum catalog. I have a great deal of what she has, but always walk out with something. The last trip this last fall, I walked in and she was spinning a Magic Sam record. This woman knows the way to my soul.
Anyway--I spotted a double album entitled 4GDB. Sounded like a rap album or something. Closer inspection told me it featured some of the best danged blues guitarist in the state of Texas. I'm very familiar with Alan Haynes, Bert Wills, and Derek O'Brien. Not so much with John Inmon, until I researched the fact that he was a founding member of Jerry Jeff Walker's Lost Gonzo Band and had played with everybody who's anybody in Texas. Wills is a Gulf Coast treasure from the Galveston area and Haynes has been tearing it up for years for in every blues bar in the state. Of course, any blues fan worth his salt knows about O'Brien's stint as guitarist in Antone's house band from the git go, and they are bound to have blues albums featuring his tasty blues guitar.
I grabbed it, and when I paid The White Roach lady asked me whether I was familiar with Bert Wills. Told her yes indeed, had a few of his recordings. She said that she once did his online promotion for awhile, which I thought was quite cool. Sooo....
4GDB--A wonderful album full of those marvelous guitarist slinging and stinging the blues. Some acoustic, some rarely covered covers and a few originals. All four guitarists bring something to the table and the menu prime blues. Don't know how easy it'll be to get ahold of this, but it'll be worth the search. The White Roach solved that one for me.
Sonny Landreth Recorded Live In Lafayette--While at The White Roach, I spotted Sonny Landreth's new one. I'd seen him play a show a few years ago and the slide guitar wizard blew me away. I picked it up, put it back, picked it up and put it back. Kinda regretted not picking it up. My wife and daughter went shopping later and asked if I needed anything. Jokingly told them that if they passed by The White Roach, picked up Sonny Landreth's album. They did it. And didn't put it back.
It showcases just what a master slide guitarist Sonny Landreth is. The double album features and acoustic set, chock full of blues with some zydeco and Louisiana swamp music thrown down. The second disc features his electric set. Some more blues and some of the other worldly slide that only Landreth can conjure up. Mojo hand gone wild. Fantastic release and it's been nominated for a well deserved Grammy. So, you can find this one.
Johnny Nicholas and Friends Too Many Bad Habits--My wife went over to The Bugle Boy in LaGrange to see Johnny play awhile back. I've mentioned that great listening room here before. I've been a fan of Johnny's since he recorded with Big Walter Horton for Blind Pig way back in the day, and I told him so. He released Too Many Bad Habits at around the same time in the late '70s and it sort of disappeared. He told me that he had gained possession of what Blind Pig had in their vaults and that a slew of unreleased stuff he did with Walter was among the masters and to keep my eyes out for his planned remastered release. My ears perked up at unreleased Big Walter. He was woefully under recorded. So, when Too Many Bad Habits hit the market I had to, you know, get it in my hands. The first disc is a straight up re-issue of the original disc with lots of fine picking by Johnny and friends, including Asleep At The Wheel's front man, Ray Benson and the legendary Johnny Shines. Johnny played a number of years with Benson's band. Big Walter is featured on a number of cuts bouncing his fat harp tone off Shine's lead guitar.
Disc two is where the unreleased stuff appears with Shines and Walter, along with Boogie Woogie Read on piano, laying down the back in the alley blues as only the veterans could do. Walter sings on a few of the tracks, letting his harp do most of the talking. Nicolas' vocals drip blues blood all over this two disc set. Well worth the price of admission. Got this one and the following one through Blue Beat Music. If Charlie ain't got it, it can't be got.
Lester Butler featuring 13 Live @ Tamines 1997--Got this one because my wife kept bugging me about what I wanted for Christmas. Butler's live King King with his band The Red Devils has been one of my favorite live albums ever. His follow up featuring a new band lineup called 13 was a great one also. Then he died. That was it and very few examples of what he left behind surfaced, so when this one did, you know, I had to get it. It not exactly on the level of King King, which was wonderfully produced by Rick Ruben, but it's darned close. The dynamic harp playing rips and roars, along with Butler's tortured vocals and a step is not lost with Alex Schulz in the guitar chair. There's too little Lester Butler out there, so this one with fill the bill until someone steps forward with something else.
Kim Wilson Blues and Boogie Vol. 1--Hell, it's Kim Wilson blowing and singing the blues. 'Nuff said. Another one of those 'what do you want for Christmas' thangs. This is Wilson getting back to his roots covering blues tunes he's been wanting to release for quite some time. He throws downs a few originals with a hand picked group of the best blues musicians on the West Coast. Might be the last recordings that we'll here from the stupendous keyboard man, Barrelhouse Chuck. This is my Kim Wilson. I've always loved The Fabulous Thunderbirds, but as of late, Wilson has been into his R&B and Soul bag, and, well, that just ain't my bag, but bring on the fat back blues harp sucking that Wilson mastered a long, long time ago and I'm in heaven. 'Nuff for now.