The following review appeared in the December 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 289) and oddly my comment opening this review still holds true as its been Mooney’s last release and its been over four years since this was released. I picked it one of the outstanding releases of 2006 and is still available (although perhaps easier to download than find a physical copy).
Its been four years since John Mooney had a new album out Big Ol’ Fiya, and he has produced his latest on LML Records (Live Music Lives), which should satisfy fans of his unique musical gumbo of Son House-influenced delta blues with Crescent City grooves.
This album also includes the keyboards of Jon Cleary along with the bass of the late Jeff Sarli, percussionist Alfred ‘Uganda’ Roberts and drummer Raymond Webber although Bernard ‘Bunche’ Johnson is on two tracks and engineer Mark Bingham picks up the bass for one track. Opening with a hot groove on 2 Get 2 Heaven, the band kicks into high gear as Mooney sings “I didn’t come here, to preach & pray; I ain’t here to soothe you; ‘Cause you works all day; I ain’t here, tokiss & tell; I’m just tryin’ to getta out this hell.” as Mooney adds some driving, crying slide. The title track follows as thetempo slows a bit with Cleary on organ as Mooney adds some nice slide runs with a lyric about what was love at first sight and how she is on his mind all day long but she left him and broke his heart. Voice and slide are in harmony as Mooney starts Dig My Way 2 China, how his woman left him so low heis digging his way down to China.
Few attempt to rework Son House songs, but Mooney’s interpretations carry an authority that in part reflect what he learned directly from the archetypal blues legend. Here he provides us a strong small band rendition of House’s Louis McGhee, with Sarli, Roberts and Webber providing the strong complimentary backing for Mooney. A Mooney original, Do You Love Me, is another strong performance rooted in the delta blues of House and his friend Willie Brown.
The remainder is in a similar vein and is a most welcome addition to Mooney’s strong discography. For more information can check Mooney’s website, www.johnmooneylive.com which will link you to www.cdbaby.com which is where your reviewer obtained this strong release.