Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin Gets "Down In The Alley"

Bob Margolin came to the notice of folk during his lengthy tenure in Muddy Waters Band, with which he played a significant role in helping maintain the classic Muddy Waters sound. After his time with Muddy he has been one of those trying to keep alive the classic “old school’ Chicago blues sound alive and vibrant. “Down in The Alley” was the first of three albums he would record for Alligator Records and the following review appeared in the January/February 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 188). I likely received my review copy from Alligator Records at the time.

Bob Margolin certainly has become one of the foremost interpreters of older blues styles since his time in Muddy Waters’ band. Since leaving Muddy’s band and setting out on his own, he has devoted himself to playing blues in the manner of Muddy and of others of what Bob terms the old school. He has become a fine interpreter of the classic Chicago Blues tradition.

His new album shows his continual maturation as a blues performer, and although he will never win an award as a blues vocalist, his singing is more forceful with a phrasing that almost overcomes his natural limitations. Of special interest are guest appearances by John Brim (who reprises his Tough Times in a duet with Margolin, and Nappy Brown, who shows a different side as he sings the Clovers’ Down in the Alley and Big Maceo’s classic, Worried Life Blues, backed only by Margolin’s guitar. Margolin covers considerable musical territory raging from a rocking Boogie at Midnight, Elmore James’ Twelve Year Old Boy, and his own Big Tree Blues, with some very nice slide.

Dave Maxwell on keyboards, Ronnie Earl on guitar, and Kaz Kazanoff on saxophone (who co-produced this with Bob) help out on what is Margolin’s best recording. His strong idiomatic playing continues to impress and he is ably supported throughout. While he may not have the voice of Muddy Waters or Nappy Brown, his phrasing shows their influence and helps, with the strong band playing, make for a very entertaining set of blues.

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