Big Legged Woman
Blues fans have to be grateful that labels like Delmark and Wolf exist to record and issue recordings of lesser-known blues artists which other labels, for whatever reason, lack the means or interest to record. A new release on Wolf, part of its Chicago Blues Session series, is by Smilin' Bobby & the Hidden Charms, "Big Legged Woman." Smilin' Bobby, whose real name is Bobby G. Smith, has been playing blues throughout Chicago for decades. Arkansas born, he moved to Chicago when he was 15.
Smilin' Bobby's music has a number of influences including Magic Sam and Albert King. In his liner notes, Scott Dirks describes Bobby's playing as a cross between Magic Slim's stinging leads with Magic Sam's cool little rhythm fills when he is singing. His voice does not sound like anyone else. Magic Sam's influence is most evident on the fine rendition of Willie Cobb's "You Don't Love Me," which is based on Sam's rendition. But the solid guitar work and the vocals bring Magic Sam clearly to mind. The vocals are very soulful in a fashion similar to those of Sam as well.
In addition to the Cobbs’ number, there are four other covers that are done in a manner that don't slavishly copy other versions and five originals that certainly have much to recommend them. The opening “I Play For Keeps,” is an original instrumental with an insistent beat and driving guitar and followed by a reworking of Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Didn’t Know” and then a stinging, brooding rendition of a T-Bone Walker classic “Cold, Cold Feeling.” His “I’ve Got To Leave This Woman” is a funky original about a woman that treats him in a low down fashion while the closing original “You Are The One,” has him telling how he keeps his woman satisfied.
The Hidden Charms second guitarist Brian Reed, bass guitarist Warren Lethan and drummer Myron Katz provide steady backing through the ten performances presented on this very enjoyable release. The music on “Big Legged Woman” certainly supports the notion that Smilin’ Bobby is a modern Chicago blues performer of note for who it has taken too many years to get a CD issued. He most definitely merits our attention.
This review was written in 2011, and I likely purchased it. I do not know if it was published at the time. Here is a video of Smilin' Bobby with Lurrie Bell from 2013.