Blues in Elsewhere

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B.B. King: Makin' Love is Good For You (SBird/Southbound)

21 Feb 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

With the great B.B. King due to arrive in Australasia for concerts, this now-readily available album from 2000 is timely. It caught him on a career high with his road-tested band in the studio just peeling off some tough-minded songs which had been part of their repertoire for while, as well as some new songs. Set aside King if you can and the piano work by James Toney is worth the price of... > Read more

BB King: I'm in the Wrong Business

JANIS JOPLIN CONSIDERED (2011): Singing out the painful sparks within

13 Feb 2011  |  5 min read  |  6

Of all those admitted to that illustrious pantheon of Dead Sixties Rock Stars, Janis Joplin has been the one least well served. Jimi is revered and regularly remarketed; and Jim has his reissued albums, an Oliver Stone bio-pix, a new headstone in Pere La Chaise and people still seem to refer to him as “a poet”. And Janis? Like Otis, she is pretty much forgotten other than by... > Read more

Janis Joplin: What Good Can Drinkin' Do (1962)

ERIC CLAPTON; THE FIRST 25 YEARS CONSIDERED: The living link between hippie and yuppie

7 Feb 2011  |  8 min read  |  3

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Eric Clapton -- once called "God" by his devotees -- ceased to be relevant. Certainly he still plays to huge audiences and his guitar playing remains technically undiminished. But his albums are --with rare exceptions -- anodyne, his playing often bloodless and despite genuine efforts to find inspiration (working with BB King, his dreary... > Read more

I Feel Free

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters: Spread the Love (Stony Plain)

6 Feb 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Blues guitarist Earl opens this typically free-wheeling, jazz-inflected instrumental album with a swinging treatment of Albert Collins' burning Backstroke -- then gets into a low mood on Blues For Dr Donna before the Hammond organ of Dave Limina kicks in for the sultry, midnight groove of Chitlins Con Carne . . . and we away go on another enjoyable ride where the spirits of Jimmy Smith and Otis... > Read more

Ronnie Earl: Chitlins Con Carne

Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (Universal)

31 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Gregg Allman is as well known for his marriage to Cher in the 70s and battles with drug'n'alcohol as he is for co-founding the seminal Southern blues-rock Allman Brothers Band with his long-gone sibling Duane. Sober and straight these past 15 years (and a new liver installed last year), the 63-year old singer/keyboard player here delivers his first solo album in 14 years and gets fine... > Read more

Gregg Allman: I Believe I'll Go Back Home

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Diamonds in the Dirt (Ruf)

31 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

It would be easy to describe -- and acclaim -- this fiery British singer-guitarist as a blues artist, and she is. But there's more to her than that. Certainly she can peel off blazing solos like Stevie Ray Vaughan (whose producer Jim Gaines is again on hand here) and can also conjure up the more gentle blues-soul of Hendrix (World on Fire). And there is an earthiness here, even when she... > Read more

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Jump That Train

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

24 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read

At 90, the great and late-discovered bluesman T-Model Ford still sounds like he is one man who isn't going to let the road of life weary him. Here with his touring band GravelRoad, he delivers a short sharp shock: eight songs, two hitting past the seven minute mark, closing with a nasty-edged Little Red Rooster. This is roadhouse blues which is sharp and stinging, and has guests Brian... > Read more

T-Model Ford: I Worn My Body So Long

B.B. KING; KING OF BLUES: It's good to be King

24 Jan 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

B.B. King (born Riley King on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi in 1925) has arguably been the blues' greatest populariser, so his track record includes performances with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Stevie Wonder and the Memphis Horns, Joe Walsh, the Crusaders, Gary Moore and, of course, U2 and Eric Clapton. That kaleidoscope of other talents on hand plus King's breadth of... > Read more

BB King: Blues at Midnight (1962)

JOHN LEE HOOKER REMEMBERED: Face to face with the blues

17 Jan 2011  |  5 min read

John Lennon once said the blues was a chair. Not a fancy chair, just the first chair. No, it doesn't make much sense - but you know what he means. And by making this analogy he placed himself alongside a swag of blues artists who have their own pithy statement: the blues is a feeling, the blues is healing music, and so on. John Lee Hooker – who died in 2001 aged 88 –... > Read more

John Lee Hooker: It Serves Me Right to Suffer (2002, with Dickey Betts on guitar)

Buddy Guy: Living Proof (Silvertone)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  2

The great Guy has been one of blues' most enduring and endearing characters: he upstaged the Stones in his cameo slot on their Shine A Light doco, and way back influenced Hendrix. He's been picking up awards for the past couple of decades, but unlike some others who have become part of the institution (and tailor albums for awards, as Santana has done latterly), Guy has always just gone out... > Read more

Buddy Guy: Thank Me Someday

ELMORE JAMES: Sliding with the king

12 Nov 2010  |  3 min read

It has been almost half a century since Elmore James bent over to pull up his socks before going out to play in an Chicago nightclub . . . and went face down on to the floor with his third and final heart attack. Although he was not widely known, the world lost a good one who left an immense legacy. James had an agonised vocal style and brutal slide guitar playing which no doubt... > Read more

Elmore James: Dust My Broom

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

8 Nov 2010  |  3 min read

Buddy Guy is talking about his club Legends in his home town of Chicago. Every Sunday and Monday it is open for all-comers, just sign at the door, get up there and play your blues. Since Guy won a Grammy for his raw and soulful Damn Right I Got The Blues album this year, he’s seen a few more up-and-corners through the door. He remembers when he first hit Chicago in the... > Read more

Buddy Guy: Too Broke to Spend the Night

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

1 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

It's been far too long between albums for Wellington blues-rocker Watson -- frontman-guitarist for Chicago Smokeshop, later simply Smokeshop -- because his excellent South Pacific Soul album (under his own name) was five years ago. In some ways Watson has mellowed, inasmuch as the vocals and guitar work here are taut as if the passions are deliberately being held in tight to give them added... > Read more

Darren Watson: St Hilda's Faithless Boy

CHESS BLUES: Taking it from the street

1 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Record companies are usually at their best when close to the street, turnlng up talent rather than just distributing it. The Chess label was so close to the street it felt the sweat. Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess owned clubs around Chicago and from the late 40s started recording some of the most formative R & B and rock ’n’ roll (Chuck’s Johnny B.... > Read more

Billy Boy Arnold: You Got to Love Me (1955)

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

18 Oct 2010  |  3 min read

“You tell them this,” says 58-year old bluesman Watermelon Slim in a voice which sounds like he has been gargling whisky-soaked nails. “God has blessed me with an extremely full and interesting life. It’s not all been fun or positive and I’m not proud of everything I’ve done. But I’ve been blessed to get this far.” Indeed, because Slim -- aka... > Read more

Eddie Turner: Miracles and Demons (Northern Blues/Southbound)

10 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

As mentioned previously on the occasion of The Turner Diaries, this singer-guitarist won't be to every blues fan's taste -- and not just because he gets the Hendrix tag a bit (true, but only sometimes and rarely this time out). For every time he unleashes fire there are other times when you feel he is holding far too much back and neither his vocals nor that guitar which he wields are doing... > Read more

Eddie Turner: Booty Bumpin'

JOHN LEE HOOKER INTERVIEWED (1990): What's in his name?

9 Aug 2010  |  4 min read

Talking to 72-year-old blues singer John Lee Hooker - even in a cursory 15 minute interview - you know you are confronting a legendary, influential figure. And The Hook, as he is commonly known, isn’t afraid to tell you so. “I have inspired so many rock 'n' roll singers and blues singers and stars - more than any other blues singer. I got music for all ages. I can do... > Read more

Oli Brown: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

8 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

The blues goes in cycles of visibility: there were those great days of the late Forties/Fifties in the South and the early Sixties in Chicago; the British blues boom of the early/mid Sixties (John Mayall, Clapton, the first Fleetwood Mac etc) and then . . . You can tick them off just by a name alone: Alligator Records (Hound Dog Taylor and the like); George Thorogood; Stevie Ray Vaughan;... > Read more

Oli Brown: Take a Look Back

Big Daddy Wilson: Love is the Key (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

2 Aug 2010  |  <1 min read

Singer Wilson from North Carolina is yet another of those US blues (and jazz) artists who found a more sympathetic and profitable environment in Europe and these days operates out of Germany playing festivals and clubs across the Continent. Ironically -- because he grew up in the church, listened to country music at home and joined the army at 16 when he was shipped off to European military... > Read more

Big Daddy Wilson: Ain't No Slave

Otis Taylor: Clovis People Vol 3 (Telarc)

19 Jul 2010  |  <1 min read

First, there is no Vol 1 or Vol 2, but this addition to Taylor's catalogue of "trance blues" which follows the excellent Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs of last year is certainly a welcome one. Taylor takes a very different view of the blues: while others see it as an idiom with strict stylistic codes if not chord progressions, guitarist-singer Taylor regards it as a feeling... > Read more

Otis Taylor: It's Done Happened Again