Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin continues to play in the style of blues he played with Muddy Waters two decades after that legend’s death. He has added to his growing discography with a new Telarc disc , Bob Margolin’s All Star Blues Jam. The disc brings together Carey Bell, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Willie Smith and Jimmy Lane for renditions of mostly classic blues tunes. It was recorded mostly at the Blues Heaven Studio in Salina, Kansas, and captures the classic Chicago blues sound of Waters and others with Margolin sharing the vocals with Waters band veterans Perkins, Bell, and Willie Smith, and bassist Mookie Brill.
Smith, longtime drummer with Muddy does a first-rate job on Waters’ Country Boy and plays harmonica on the reworking of Juke. Pinetop’s steady piano helps anchor much of this disc along with Brill on bass and Smith on drums. Margolin tackles Johnny Shines’ Brutal Hearted Woman, which he has rearranged the number into a Waters’ styled Chicago blues, but vocally does not come close to Shines’ vocal on the original. Bell is solid throughout whether playing fat chromatic harp behind Smith’s vocal on Always on My Mind, or singing, with his gruff delivery, on the shuffle One Day You’ll Gonna Get Lucky.
Pinetop ably does Robert Nighthawk’s Sweet Black Angel. A live recording of Mean Old Chicago, a song Margolin wrote in memory of Jimmy Rogers, includes some nice guitar from Rogers son Jimmy Lane. Sumlin supports Margolin on Jimmy Rogers’ Last Time and the blues staple Goin’ Down Slow. The album closes with an instrumental rendition of the gospel standard Just a Little Walk With You that Pinetop takes the lead on a simply delivered rendition.
There is a consistency in the performances here. If few are exceptional, the level is still strong which makes for enjoyable listening that will not disappoint fans of classic Chicago blues.
This review originally appeared in the June 2003 DC Blues Calendar and the July-August 2003 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 263). I have made minor stylistic changes. I likely received a review copy from the record label or a publicist for the label.