Monday, April 23, 2012

Mississippi Heat Lives It Up

It has been nearly twenty years since Pierre Lacocque formed the Chicago blues band and revue in one, Mississippi Heat, who have just issued their latest album on Delmark, Let’s Live It Up! Over the years, Lacocque has assembled various line-ups and for this disc vocalist Inetta Visor returns while Christopher ‘Hambone’ Cameron handles the keyboards and Stephen Howard the bass with Kenny Smith handling the drums for some of the 14 performances. Special guests include guitarists Carl Weathersby and John Primer, with the latter handling several vocals, and the Chicago Horns.

Lacocque contributed most of the songs here (originals with one exception) including the wild-ass p[arty rocker that opens this. He covers so many bases as a writer, able to handle songs in a traditional Chicago style such as Steadfast, Loyal and True, with some prime singing and playing from Primer. Jumpin’ in Chi-Town, is a supersonic tempo rocker with nice chromatic harp and brassy horns punctuating Inetta’s sassy vocal, while Inetta soulfully delivers She Died of a Broken Heart, an original she and Cameron collaborated on.

Primer is up front on “Betty Sue,” a hard rocker in the vein of Linda Lu, with some driving chicken-picking guitar in addition to Primer’s vocal. Another Sleepless Night, is a soul-blues with a strong lyric and an insistent vocal from Inetta backed by a driving backing with nice imaginative harp and a strong chromatic solo. Peace Train, is a gospel number with rollicking piano in the backing, while Weathersby biting guitar is prominent on Been Good To You, with choice solos also by Cameron and the leader.

The one cover here is the lively rendering of Sugar Pie DeSanto I Want To Know. Another highlight is Daggers & Spears, which introduces another singer, Rhonda Preston, who belts out the vocal. He delivery is more in the vein of a shouter in contrast to Inetta Visor’s more dry, sober approach with Giles Covey taking a solid solo. Primer’s own I Got the News Today, is another terrific performance in the traditional Chicago blues style, before the closing Until We Meet Again, a peppy closing number that is unusual to hear on a recording with Giles Covey a spirited solo before Lacocque closes it out on chromatic.

Mississippi Heat maintains their winning formula on Let’s Live It Up! with good original material, strong and authoritative singing, an excellent band that is comfortable in several different blues styles and excellent soloists. The result is another collection of blues that should appeal to those loving Chicago blues.

This review originally appeared in the July 2010 Jazz & Blues Report. I received my review copy from Delmark.

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