Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Bill Morganfield's solid Chicago Blues

When a child follows in the footsteps of iconic parent, it is easy to be overshadowed. Sometimes one has to pursue a different musical direction such as a John Lee Hooker, Jr. Big Bill Morganfield has chosen to perform in the tradition of his dad, Muddy Waters, which makes comparisons somewhat unavoidable. If Big Bill has not become a blues performer of his father's stature (and few who have lived are), it does not diminish the fact that he has become a solid purveyor of classic Chicago-styled blues as his latest album "Born Lover" (Black Shuck Records/Vizztone) displays.

Produced by Bob Margolin and Brian Bisesi who play guitar along with Morganfield here, the disc features a studio band of Chuck Cotton on drums, Mookie Brill on bass, Chuck Stern on keyboards and Steve Guyger on harmonica. Given this backing band, it is no wonder that the playing here is so strong, and reminiscent of the 1970s Muddy Waters band which Margolin was such an important part of. Stern and Guyger in particular deserve special mention for their superb playing.

There is a varied program of interpretations of older recordings including Little Walter's "It's Too Late Brother," the title tune by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf's "My Last Affair," and Lonesome Sundown's "Lonesome Lonely Blues," along with Morganfield's originals such as the topical "High Gas Prices," and "X-Rated Lover." The rhythm is always in the pocket and Guyger is in top form whether evoking Little Walter on "Born Lover," or Jimmy Reed, on the excellent take of Snooky Pryor's "Peace of Mind." Big Bill Morganfield may never reach the stature of his father, but that does not diminish the fact he has become a solid interpreter of the Chicago blues tradition and a keeper of the flame."Born Lover" is a very enjoyable collection of performances that rightfully should find a wide audience.

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