Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lucky Peterson Made the Right Moves

A little over a couple weeks ago (October 14), I posted about Lucky Peterson’s latest CD, “You Can Always Turn Around,” and stated that I thought his Verve-Gitanes recordings were amongst the best of the 1990s. Recently I was able to locate my review of his CD, Move, that appeared in the April 1998 Jazz & Blues Report (No. 230) which provides my reaction to that recording when it was issued along with comments on the previous “Lifetime” CD. Here it is for your edification.

Lucky Peterson certainly has matured since being a child prodigy. Having first recorded when he was five, and playing with his father James as he grew up, Lucky has emerged as one of the most important talents in the blues world. A superb keyboard player, Lucky is also a guitarist of considerable ability and one of the blues most underrated singers.

When so much of ‘contemporary’ blues is nothing more than rehashed rock-oriented blues rock, Lucky brings to his music strong soul and funk seasoning. His previous album, Lifetime, was one of the best records of the past few years with terrific remakes of Earth Wind and Fire’s Shining Star, and Sam Cooke’s Change is Gonna Come, along with Bad Condition, one of the finest blues set to a reggae groove. At a time when the latest teenage guitar phenom is heralded by some ‘as the music’s future, Lifetime has never gotten its due as among the most forward looking blues albums of the nineties.

Lucky’s newest album, Move, continues with a similar musical synthesis, although with stripped down backing of Butch Bonner’s rhythm guitar, ex-Iceman Johnny B. Gayden on bass, and Dennis Chambers on drums. There are new blues like the title track and the opening You’re the One For Me, and a cover of Robert Cray’s Don’t You Ever Care, that Lucky sings with considerable heat. Lucky also tackles the old Ashford and Simpson classic that Ray Charles made famous, Let’s Go Get Stoned, the Isley Brother’s classic It’s Your Thing, and Prince’s Purple Rain, providing a fertile musical stew. An instrumental, Pickin’ , shows his appreciation to Albert Collins, yet never lapses into imitation, and he takes Tin Pan Alley and provides a strong vocal to go along with his guitar playing. He has absorbed much from Hendrix, Prince, the various Kings and Albert Collins, and others, yet plays with a clarity and articulation in his solos that some of the emerging players in blues today might take a lesson from. Move is another reason Lucky Peterson is among the most important blues artists today.

Rereading these words, it is sort of bittersweet, since Lucky had the chance to establish himself as one of the premier touring artists. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons, this did not happen. Even if I do not find his newest recording to be on the level of Lifetime and Move, here’s hoping with his demons behind him he can bring the same mojo to his performances that made this recordings so compelling. One may have to shop around to find CD copies, either new or used. The music on these is available as downloads.

I do not recall if I received review copies or whether I purchased one or both.

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