Monday, October 10, 2011

Louisiana Red's Memphis Mojo

Iverson Minter, better known as Louisiana Red, has had a distinguished recording career that dates back six decades. Red has recorded many memorable recordings over the years, whether his challenge to Muddy Waters, Gonna Play My Guitar, as Playboy Fuller' Red's Dream, that the legendary Henry Glover produced from a session with Tommy Tucker on piano; Louisiana Red Sings the Blues, an Atco album with the late Bill Dicey on harmonica; the Blue Labor album Sweet Blood Call, with some very chilling vocals; a solo set, "Sittin' Here Wonderin', as well as Millennium Blues, for Earwig; and more recently Black to the Black Bayou on Ruf. I could cite other titles, but one should get the point that Louisiana Red has been laying down some stone cold, real blues killers for decades.

Ruf has issued a new Louisiana Red album, Memphis Mojo, which like the "Black Bayou" disc has him joined with Little Victor's Juke Joint who I presume is Little Victor on guitar, Bill Troiani on bass and Alex Pettersen on drums with appearances by Dave Maxwell on piano, Bob Corritore on harmonica, 'The Hawk' on maracas and Mookie Brill on bass for several tracks. This is a solid recording in the vein of the classic Chicago blues of Muddy Waters and Elmore James, mixed in with some North Mississippi Hill Country flavor. Red's voice perhaps is a bit more gravelly, but the robustness of his vocals still stand out. The backing throughout is strong, sounding traditional yet fresh.

The songs, with one exception are originals opening with Goodbye Blues, with a groove evocative of Muddy Waters' Louisiana Blues, set to a driving accompaniment with Little Victor taking the lead on guitar and Corritore wailing on harp. I Had Troubles All My Life, may have been done by Red before but is strongly delivered as he sings about wanting to go back to Mississippi with a bit of howling. The one cover is Blind Lemon Jefferson's See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, with Little Victor providing atmospheric use of tremolo with his guitar helping make an original rendition of this standard. It is followed by the North Mississippi Hills groove of No More Whiskey. Yolanda has Maxwell on piano and Corritore on harp for a strong Chicago styled blues. Your Lovin' Man, is a downhome blues with Red laying down tough sounding slide, while I'm Gettin' Tired has an insistent groove suggestive of Junior Parker's Feelin' Good.

So Long, So Long, conjures the early Muddy Waters recordings with Big Crawford on bass and Little Walter on harmonica. It perhaps is the standout track on a recording with many excellent performances. Memphis Mojo is a superb blues recording likely to receive many of the accolades Red's prior disc received. Such recognition will be well deserved.

My review copy was provided by a publicist.

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