An Avalanche of Blues
Obrecht, Jas, Guitar Player
An avalanche of new blues records plowed into the offices right after the holidays. Our choice for best new release: Junior Kimbrough & The Soul Blues Boys' All Night Long. Droning and trance-inducing, these heavy, heavy blues were produced by Robert Palmer in Junior's juke outside Holly Springs, Mississippi, and released by Fat Possum (Box 1923, Oxford, MS 38655). Suitably cranked, the set throbs just like Junior's on a Saturday night, sans the clinks, whoops, and hollers. And believe it or not, heavy chorusing makes Kimbrough's tone sound even tougher.
Unadorned modern Southern blues, Lonnie Shields' Portrait features rough-and-ready support by seasoned Delta musicians. Gospel, funk, and soul influence the music, while Lonnie's guitaring pays healthy respect to B.B. King (Rooster Blues, 232 Sunflower Ave., Clarksdale, MS 38614). Guitar Gabriel, a 68-year-old North Carolinian, boogies and cries lovely country blues on Deep In The South (Karibu, Box 12522, Winston-Salem, NC 27117). Born Robert Lewis Jones, Gabriel knew Blind Boy Fuller, worked medicine shows, and last recorded in '70. He's got a rascally, appealing voice, an easygoing 6-string style, and the fleet-fingered Timothy Duffy on second guitar.
His voice strong and sure as Sonny Boy Williamson's, his homemade slide guitar warm and rocking, Homesick James, age 87, gives fist-raising performances on Sweet Home Tennessee (Appaloosa, dist. by Ichiban, Box 724677, Atlanta, GA 30339). The spectre of Elmore James haunts his deepest tracks, as well it should: Homesick played bass on Elmore's best-loved records and claims to have taught him slide. Houston's Pete Mayes sounds astonishingly like T-Bone Walker on Lowdown Feeling (Collectibles, Box 35, Narbeth, PA 19072), which gathers tracks from 1969-'91. Recorded live at Sylvio's in '66, Magic Sam's Magic Touch (Black Top) is funky and low-tech to the point of sounding hand-held, but interesting nonetheless: Sam's guitar, praise God, blasts confidently through the mix of great songs like "Hate To See You Go" and "All Your Love." Recorded by Black & Blue in '82, Robert Jr. Lockwood performs solo 12-string acoustic blues on Plays Robert & Robert (Evidence), a tribute to his "stepfather" / associate Robert Johnson and Lockwood's own classy songs of years gone by. Another fine Evidence reissue is Gatemouth Brown's Just Got Lucky, cut in France during the mid '70s by Black & Blue. The swinging Mr. Brown choo-choo-ch'-boogies nicely alongside Arnett Cobb, Jay McShann, Milt Buckner, J.C. Heard, and other jazz luminaries.