Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials: Jump Start (Alligator)

Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials: House of Cards
Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials: Jump Start (Alligator)

When Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records in Chicago 40 years ago it was to release albums by the likes of Hound Dog Taylor and Albert Collins who were burning up local clubs with their incendiary and tough minded playing.

In 1986 singer-guitarist Lil' Ed and his band were invited to record a song but, treating the studio like stage, they stormed through a whole set which became their debut album Roughhousin'.

That's Lil' Ed, just plug him in and stand back. And this 14 song collection is in the classic Chicago style of barbed wire guitar, tough lyrics about hard times (smoking crack) and luckless love.

Lil' Ed (who is indeed very small) is close to 60 but there's no suggestion he's slowing down – his solo on House of Cards alone could peel paint – but when he pulls the pace back for slow-fuse ballads he delivers with a rare passion and injects his playing with melancholy (the weeping tone on Life is a Journey or the funereally-paced If You Change You Mind).

But mostly what is here kicks in with drilling drums and swooping bass behind his piercing slide which comes on like Elmore James in a drag race.

Light the fuse, stand well clear.

Like the sound of Alligator blues? Then check this out.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Oli Brown: Here I Am (Ruf)

Oli Brown: Here I Am (Ruf)

On the back of his 2010 album Heads I Win Tails You Lose, Elsewhere noted that while this young, hard-edged blues guitarist came up a little short in the originality stakes he was certainly one to... > Read more

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures)

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures)

Gutsy, earthy and steeped in the blues, singer-guitarist Bonamassa seems an unstoppable force. He fires off albums under his own name (this his third in two years) and with Black Country... > Read more

New Elsewhere

THE DARK HORSE, a film by JAMES NAPIER ROBERTSON (Transmission DVD)

THE DARK HORSE, a film by JAMES NAPIER ROBERTSON (Transmission DVD)

That this film should have picked up so many wins at the NZ Film Awards will come as little surprise. Taking nothing away from the excellence of the acting and directing, there were few other... > Read more

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JONATHAN GANLEY once again shoots Nick Cave

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JONATHAN GANLEY once again shoots Nick Cave

Auckland photographer Jonathan Ganley first photographed Nick Cave in 1983 at Mainstreet when Cave was with The Birthday Party. On the 30th anniversary of that show Elsewhere ran a photo essay by... > Read more