Monday, September 22, 2008

Blind Pig's latest releases are a mixed bag

Couple of new releases from Blind Pig to briefly note. One is the latest from Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Midnight Blues. It is an enjoyable release in his immediately recognizable sound with his grinding slow blues and highly danceable walking shuffles with his solid singing and stinging lead guitar. He is backed by his band of guitarist Jon McDonald; bassist Danny O’Connor and drummer David Simms, with guest appearances by James Cotton, Lil Ed Williams, Lonnie Brooks, Elvin Bishop, and a Gene Barge horn section. Its a typical mix of originals and lesser known blues from other singers. Let Me Love You, is a typical Slim shuffle with a driving beat and a solid vocal followed by a nice rendition of Muddy Waters’ You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had, with James Cotton chiming in on harp. Lil Ed joins for the frantic rendition of Hound Dog Taylor’s Give Me Back My Wig, that is a tad busy sounding. Little Milton’s Lonely Man, is slightly flat, but the take on Spider in My Stew, with Lonnie Brooks guesting, is much better as Slim and company grind out a most persuasive performance. The country flavor of Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, adds variety but its more of a novelty track here. Full Load Boogie, is a nondescript instrumental but followed by a terrific take of Muddy’s Crosseyed Cat with a groove that chugs along like an irresistible force. Elvin Bishop helps out on the slow-drag Carla, while Slim reworks Cryin’ Won’t Make You Stay, from a slow-drag number to a jaunty shuffle employing the Dust My Broom, groove. A few tracks may be relatively disappointing, as Slim seems incapable of producing a bad recording. This is not Slim’s most impressive effort, but its far from a poor effort.

The other new Blind Pig disc is a live release by Albert Cummings, Feel So Good, that I would describe as a blues-tinged hard rock date as opposed to a blues. A power guitarist, just supported by bass and trio. He bellows out his vocals while hammering out some sizzling guitar pyrotechnics. The opening Party Right Here, and the succeeding Why Me, have a flavor not dissimilar from what one might see/hear on CMT or some contemporary country stations, although a bit more rocked out and certainly not sung with any great distinction, and taken at breakneck tempos. Sleep, a somewhat dreamy rock ballad is taken at a slow tempo with a more relaxed vocal and nice thoughtful guitar. A medley of Hootchie Cootchie with Dixie Chicken owes more to the Allman Brothers, Z.Z. Hill and other southern boogie rockers than Muddy Waters or B.B. King which also is evident by Barrelhouse Blues, which evokes Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, while Your Own Way, is musically suggestive of All Along the Watchtower, with a long-extended screaming guitar solo, Cummings does a creditable hard-rock rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Rock & Roll, which indicates where the core of Cummins’ musical heart is. He bellows out that the Blues Makes Me Feel So Good, but this disc must not be the blues, because it don’t make me feel that way.

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