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  • LURRIE BELL, Blues In My Soul, Delmark Records, CD review
    s hard to imagine anyone else performing it The tormented single note bends that typify Bell s guitar work kick off Blues in my Soul with a spirited reading of T Bone Walker s Hey Hey Baby His stinging guitar lines are pure emotion long on melody and lyrical rhythms the playing is vocal and intensely personal It seems as if not one note is out of place and everything is as it is divined to be On Blues in my Soul Bell finds himself leading his first class working band which features Matthew Skoller harmonica Roosevelt Purifoy keyboards Melvin Smith bass and Willie Hayes drums The horn section of Marques Carroll Chris Neal and Mark Hiebert accompany the band on two tracks This ensemble complements Bell s six string virtuosity intuitively never dominating and always enhancing the feel and pace of the song Like a velvet shadow the horns are silky and smooth without a hint of sibilance or brashness while Purifoy s organ work fills the space with rich textured B3 tones that are sweet as honey Next the title track Blues in My Soul finds Bell working a minor blues to perfection The economy of his playing is very refreshing devoid of technical tricks or over practiced scales it s pure transcendence Bell and Purifoy take turns at soloing over the changes but it s Bell s guitar that is the star Which is not to say that the vocals are for want Lurrie is known primarily as a guitarist but nowhere are his vocal abilities more on display than Blues in my Soul The sound and texture of his voice is sanctified for the blues Blessed with a deep and resonant baritone its impact is rich full bodied and deeply sonorous When Bell sings of loss as in Bout the Break of Day or 24 Hour Blues in memory of Magic Slim it s gut wrenching as if he were confiding his pain to the listener personally wiping away tears in the process It s a powerful experience Not that all is pain and heartache on Blues in my Soul Broonzy s Feel So Good Otis Rush s She s a Good un and Walker s T Bone Blues Special are joyful excursions optimistic and full of life Bell s Chicago bona fides are on full display with the classic harmonica driven styles of Muddy Waters and Little Walter With the help of Chicago harp master Matthew Skoller Bell and company explore the aforementioned Feel So Good Jimmy Rogers Going Away Baby and My Little Machine along with Little Walter s I Just Keep Loving Her Skoller s playing is the essence of golden era harp he never noodles purposelessly on his instrument instead playing tight melodic lines in support of the song Skoller carefully budgets his harp flourishes and the effect is very pleasing he is on the short list of guys who play it right Lurrie Bell is on a blues journey that started

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/lurrie-bell-cd/lurrie-bell-blues-in-soul-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • SHAWN HOLT & THE TEARDROPS, Daddy Told Me, Blind Pig Records, CD review
    Del Giudice The Legacy Continues With this debut CD on Blind Pig Shawn Lil Slim Holt takes the helm of his late father s band Magic Slim and The Teardrops He sings convincingly on all but two of the 12 tracks Two of them are sung and played by former Teardrops member John Primer The mixing presents a modern and vibrant sound What is striking about Shawn Holt s guitar playing is that he sounds just like a chip off the old block His guitar tone is fat raw and unadulterated He only uses a thumb pick for his guitar with no special effects and straight into his amplifier It is indeed a guitar style that is reminiscent of his father s the late Morris Magic Slim Holt who passed away early this year R I P August 8th 1937 February 21st 2013 Shawn wrote five tunes on this recording Paying homage to his father the Teardrops also recorded two of Magic Slim s songs Buddy Buddy Friend and Please Don t Dog Me This adds a nice nostalgic touch to a great CD The remaining five songs are well known covers Daddy Told Me offers a list of fine no nonsense blues From heavy lumps old school Chicago shuffles swings to low down in your face slow blues The Teardrops also use background vocals on a few tunes These though basic are effective and help the tracks As with previous Magic Slim recordings on Blind Pig Records 10 CDs in the last 24 years the musical approach taken here is less is more There are no horns or keyboard players on any songs for instance And it works admirably well Not many quartet blues ensembles today can reproduce the unique and deceptively simple lumps and blues that Magic Slim

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/shawn-holt-cd-review/shawn-holt-teardrops-cd-review-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings, Kingsville Jukin', Delmark Records, CD review
    into the mix with the second track When They Played the Real Blues John gives us some dirty licks on the harp and he sings of the times when Maxwell Street was alive with the blues She s Allright gives us more of the primal beat and down and dirty blues Shake It Down Now is another guitar song sans harp where Studebaker John gives us a lesson in old fashioned slide Taking the tempo up to some hotter dancing levels we get to The Rest is Up to You where Grimaldi leads the band on vocals harp and guitar he plainly tells us he s submitted his information and confirmed his destination so it s up to his woman to make a choice This is a relationship where you select one from column A and one from column B and move on Studebaker channels Hound Dog Taylor in so much of this CD but I Am the Houserocker is straight up throbbing Taylor like stuff straight up from Chicago directly to you John burns up the guitar here with his slide work Howlin In the Moonlight begins with well howling John and the band break into a Phil Spector like wall of sound laying out the big and primal beat again with vicious simple yet effective chords and repetitive licks that are almost animalistic as he sings about his urges which include but are not limited to howling at the moon The harp solo also adds a dirty little niceness to this cut In Case of Fire is a slower tempo ed boogie that John uses to talk about taking care of his woman and protecting her from the heat of her and their passions Ride Again opens with the harp and guitar playing the same tune and then breaks into a very cool and hot highway song The title cut is an instrumental and the lead is cool harp licks a la Little Walter s style Grimaldi lays it all on the table here with some really impressive harp work He follows that with Wicked Soul where the big assed guitar and the driving beat returns Fans who like this style of West Side blues will eat this up as he sings of the devil torturing him as he cries for mercy on his wicked soul The guitar solo attack serves well as a musical adaptation of the devil assaulting him and his soul Cold Black Night slows things way down in a thoughtfully laid out and played piece with guitar accompanying the vocals He begins with a touch of harp too but turns to vocals and the harp does not appear until the next cut It s a very nice track overall Mojo Hand takes in all the voodoo blues euphemisms as John sings of his voodoo woman His harp work here is also from the spirit world intense and otherworldly He wants to use all the potions herbs and whatever to make his woman do all

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/studebaker-john-maxwell-st-kings-cd/studebaker-john-maxwell-st-kingsville-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • ROOMFUL OF BLUES, 45 Live, Alligator Records, CD review
    rafters riding the full weight of the band with ease They hit it right from the start making a statement with a swaggering take of Just Keep on Rockin that they live up to on all fourteen tracks Pemberton s soulful tone is a perfect fit for the hard driving It All Went Down the Drain and Vachon delivers a fine tremolo laden solo on the tune cut in 1988 for their Earl King project An electrifying run through of That s Right features a stirring tenor solo from Earley before the band dusts off another title track from one of their recordings Dressed Up to Get Messed Up You d never know that the song had been on the shelf for more than twenty years after hearing the booming sax solo over the band s sultry finger snapping strut There s a harder edge on a third title track Turn It On Turn It Up with Scott riding the organ behind the blasts from the horn section Pemberton is at his best on a slow burning rendition of Magic Sam s Easy Baby his chilling lament showcasing his impressive vocal range Vachon gets down and dirty on a solo that steadily builds in intensity until he finishes it off with a dramatic flurry of cutting licks Another highlight occurs on I Left My Baby originally done by the Count Basie Band with Jimmy Rushing on the vocal This time Pemberton s soulful singing rides the slow drag rhythm with Early and Scott adding memorable solos Lataille s Straight Jacquet is an instrumental tribute to the legendary jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet giving the three horn players plenty of room to stretch out Scott s rollicking piano takes the lead on Crawdad Hole a track they recorded with Big Joe Turner

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/roomful-blues-cd/roomful-blues-45-live-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • BUDDY GUY, Rhythm & Blues CD review, RCA/Silvertone Records
    purchased many a CD from him over the last 20 years or so but up until this point not one studio recording had been able to capture that raw emotion and energy of a live Buddy Guy show This CD does it in spades from the opening notes of the first song when the Muscle Shoals horn section kicks in it just explodes Produced by Tom Hambridge 2011 Grammy winner for Buddy s CD Living Proof and recorded primarily in Nashville it becomes glaringly evident that Mr Hambridge gets it He gets that in your face larger than life take no prisoners energy that is a Buddy Guy performance Hambridge has finally captured it all It s like he just put Buddy in the studio and cut him loose That energy and emotion that I will always associate with Buddy Guy screams from this CD Even on the slower songs Buddy s high level intensity never diminishes The first CD Rhythm opens with the high energy Best in Town and sets the tone and pace for the entire two CD set Without detracting or distracting from the flow the guest appearances seem like they are just part of the show On the first CD we have an updated homage to Buddy s late great partner Junior Wells with Messing With the Kid Featuring Kid Rock on vocals with attitude it s quite entertaining On the soulful message ballad One Day Away country star Keith Urban shares vocals with Buddy their emotion filled voices blending nicely But the soon to be classic What You Gonna Do About Me is a driving and powerful duet with gritty voiced blues woman Beth Hart It is truly one of the highlights of the CD The second CD Blues is a high energy continuation of

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/buddy-guy-cd/buddy-guy-rhythm&blues-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • TAIL DRAGGER, Stop Lyin', Delmark Records, CD review
    with Dave Weld Larry is every bit as good as he was on these tracks Go see him when he plays a club near you and hear how blues drumming is supposed to sound Although you don t hear it here on this disc Larry Taylor is also a gifted singer Guitarist Johnny B Moore appears here at the top of his formidable game blending seamlessly with guitarist Jesse Lee Williams traditional first position rhythm It s a delight to hear guitar playing without all the histrionics today s bluesmen seem to find necessary This should be required listening along with the Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Taylor cannon for anybody who thinks they can play blues guitar With the added flavor of Eddie Jew Town Burks on harp rounding out the band the sound is like a snifter of Martel on a cold Chicago night a little smoky a little mellow with just a little bite Just like a Saturday night set down at the Rat Trap circa 1982 the CD jumps off with the medium tempo So Ezee which sets the mood for a bar set of good unfettered blues For people who love the simple one chord grooves of Howlin Wolf or John Lee Hooker track two Where Did You Go will ring your chimes Reminiscent of Wolf classic How Many More Years the moaning harp and pleading vocals drip with the simple yearning of a man with a terrible woman who just won t stay home The next track the medium tempo 12 bar Ain t Gonna Cry No More seems to be about the same couple on a different night Don t You Want a Good Man lopes along with a swinging rhythm Tail Dragger exercises his artistic license breaking time and phrasing how he feels it and Johnny B gives us some of those down home blues licks he s famous for trading riffs with Eddie Burks harp like a conversation among friends one overlapping the other No set of Tail Dragger is complete without some version of his classic lament My Head Is Bald Little Mack Simmons plays some great harp on the opening number and this track as well Those two tunes are also sweetened by Lafayette Leake s tasty understated piano Alabama Bound owes a debt to Elmore James with the loping slide intro Larry Taylor s perfectly timed fills show both Chicago and Memphis influence as he and Willie Kent propel the groove along Johnny B s solo sounds loose and happy while Tail howls about his lost Fannie Mae Don t Trust Your Woman has us back in the Howlin Wolf one chord groove Tail Dragger demonstrates his heir apparent status crooning and howling like a hound dog denied his love bone While Johnny B s guitar echoes the vibration of Tails voice here he also delivers another satisfying solo The effect is hypnotic Slow blues was never delivered better than in Please Mr Jailer which Tail Dragger introduces by

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/tail-dragger-cd/tail-dragger-stop-lyin-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • JOHN PRIMER & BOB CORRITORE, CD review, Knockin' Around These Blues, Delta Groove Music
    Junior Wells and others before going solo Harp maestro Corritore learned his craft in Chicago s roughest blues bars in his youth having backed legends like Koko Taylor and Tail Dragger Today he s a blues club owner Phoenix s Rhythm Room DJ and record producer Both artists tour internationally and play prestigious fests and venues For this collaborative CD it s hard to imagine a more satisfying and authentic cast of characters backing them up Barrelhouse Chuck Billy Flynn Chris James living legend Bob Stroger Patrick Ryan Kenny Smith and Brian Fahey all conspire with Primer and Corritore to deliver a performance that will surely be considered as one the finest blues recording of the modern era It s that good Culling titles from the greats and also offering a few self penned compositions P C deliver electric blues in a number of classic styles each executed with perfection seemingly every nuance rhythm and melody are placed in just the right spot Happily the selections are mostly lesser known titles Lockwood s Little Boy Blue being the most obvious The recording itself is uncluttered and clean the instruments are placed beautifully in the mix creating a lively and realistic listening experience On the lead track Jimmy Reed s The Clock Corritore s harmonica effortlessly captures Reed s high lonesome sound while Primer s vocal and guitar evoke the spirit of legendary blues club Theresa s with every measure Standout tracks include Melvin Jackson s Cairo Blues and Artie Blues Boy White s Leanin Tree Harmonica Joyride features Corritore in full electric blues harp mode Chicago style Backed by team Chicago Primer Barrelhouse Flynn Smith and Stroger this cut is definitional as to what blues harmonica should sound like Knockin Around These Blues was recorded in two separate sessions one

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/john-primer-bob-corritore-cd/john-primer-bob-corritore-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • ERWIN HELFER, Erwin Helfer Way, CD review, The Sirens Records
    a who s who of Chicago blues piano including Willie Mabon Blind John Davis and Detroit Junior The new CD continues a career that has spanned four decades in Chicago blues and Erwin Helfer Way includes new interpretations of songs from the great American blues songbook through the hands of an artist who has played with giants who have shaped blues history While two of my favorite cuts from Erwin Helfer Way are the classic Chicken Shack and Sweet Georgia Brown I especially enjoyed E C Boogie where Erwin Helfer and long time collaborator and Sirens labelmate Barrelhouse Chuck join forces on keyboards In addition Barrelhouse Chuck Erwin s ensemble on this CD includes a line up of accomplished local sidemen He s got Chaka Khan s John Brumbach Blues Brother Band vet Lou Marini Junior Wells alum Skinny Williams on saxophones and William Bugs Cochran from Yoko Noge s Japanesque arguably one of Chicago s most diverse blues experiences on drums For me the CD is a joy to experience from start to finish but I m biased I m partial to old school Chicago blues piano and I particularly enjoy Take My Hand Precious Lord The Fives and The Preacher Last summer the Jazz Institute of Chicago celebrated Erwin s 76 th birthday during its Made in Chicago concert series at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park with Erwin Helfer A Life in Boogie and Blues a short YouTube video www youtube com watch v uvhfTauSmUc captures Erwin performing a commissioned composition for the first time It s no accident that the title of the CD and the cover graphic look like an official City of Chicago street sign In 2006 the city renamed part of Magnolia Street Erwin Helfer Way in recognition of his contributions to Chicago

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/erwin-helfer-cd/erwin-helfer-way-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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