Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Iceman Robinson's Slide Guitar Blues

Riler 'Iceman' Robinson, like many playing the blues in Chicago, came from Mississippi. He learned to play blues guitar from a man who was in his 50s and also played the fiddle and the two worked house parties together, with Robinson accompanying the fiddler on guitar. Later he moved to Chicago working a variety of blue collar jobs. An early musical idol was Lightnin' Hopkins, but Robinson later was enamored by John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor with the latter two especially influencing his music. 
To my knowledge, Iceman Robinson has one recording available, the 2001 Fedora album I've Never Been Loved. He is backed on it by Frank Goldwasser on guitar; Willie Kent on bass; and producer Chris Millar on drums.  His influences are pretty evident on this traditionally based Chicago blues album. The opening My Baby's Comin' Home, is a reworking of Elmore's Talk To Me Baby, with an urgent vocal and driving slide. It is followed by insistent rendition Hound Dog Taylor's Sadie, where half way through Robinson starts referring to a "Sally" for the remainder of the performance. Other strong tracks include a fine slide instrumental Robinson's Rock styled after some of the instrumentals Elmore James recorded for record producer, Bobby Robinson, and Chicago Lakefront which is a hot shuffle with some tough non-slide guitar.
There is nothing profound about his songs. Just like he needs money, he needs a woman he sings against the insistent backing of I Have a Need. The title track is a relaxed shuffle where he complains that he has never being treated right and has the blues all day and all night. He complains about having no time to play and his woman not being helping any on Workin' Man, a driving blues using the Dust My Broom riff. The insistent Baby How Long adapts Howlin' Wolf's How Many More Years. A driving slide guitar boogie in the vein of Hound Dog Taylor, "Waiting on My Baby," ends this entertaining album.
Iceman Robinson’s I've Never Been Loved is one of many solid traditionally oriented Chicago blues that many may have been overlooked by fans of this style. It delivers some solid Chicago blues with solid slide guitar that should appeal to fans of Chicago styled blues who may have missed this. Fedora is to be thanked for making the music of unheralded acts like Ice Man Robinson available for posterity.
I believe I purchased this and it is still available.

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