Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jimmy Rogers at Best on CD "Blue Bird"

1994 saw Analogue Productions Original issue a marvelous album by the legendary Jimmy Rogers with an all star band. These are arguably his best recordings since the best of his Chess recordings, and are still available. This is my review from 1994.

Jimmy Rogers has a great new album, Blue Bird, on Analogue Productions Originals (APO 2001), an audiophile label that issues releases on high quality vinyl in addition to compact disc. Producer John Koenig has assembled a terrific backing band with Dave Myers on bass, Roger’s son Jimmy D. Lane on lead guitar, Ted Harvey on drums, Carey Bell on harmonica and Johnnie Johnson on piano. Rogers reworks several of his classic recordings (Walking By Myself Again, That Ain’t It, and Blues Falling), along with renditions of Howlin’ Wolf’s Howlin’ For My Darling, and Muddy Waters’ rendition of Smokestack Lightning. Rogers was always was a fan of the first Sonny Boy Williamson, and the title track, credited to Rogers, is a reworking of one of John Lee Williamson’s recordings, while the opening I’m Tired of Crying Over You is a retitled version of Little Walter’s Oh Baby. Rogers sounds in good voice and the relaxed, but tight, backing fits like a glove. Johnnie Johnson is a terrific accompanist and is much better in this role than as a leader or singer. Carey Bell’s harp playing here is up to his usual high level and Jimmy Lane’s guitar playing hits all the right bases, without any gimmicks, tricks or flash. He has certainly absorbed a lot of influences from the old school (to use former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin’s phrase) in his playing including those from his dad and the late Eddie Taylor, along with more rock oriented players. Everything is sung and played at such a high level, and this is one of the best recent albums of traditional Chicago blues. The better stores should have this one - but Analogue Productions Originals is distributed by Acoustic Sounds, P.O. Box 2043, Salina, Kansas 67402-2043 or telephone them at (913) 825-8609. They also have gold disc and 180 gram vinyl audiophile reissues of several albums from the Contemporary Records jazz catalog.

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