Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Larry Garner Deserves To Play Before Standing Room Only

I am a big Larry Garner fan and have been frustrated that his career has never reached the heights his music deserved. His JSP recordings and Gitanes-Verve recordings displayed a laconic style as well as some of the most original and astute lyrics of anybody over the past few decades. The following review was written for the DC Blues Calendar back in 1998 and while I was not overly enthusiastic of this recording, Larry will always be one of my favorites. This is available as a download and he has other recordings on Ruf that strike me as stronger as well. I likely received a review copy of this from the label or a publicist.

One of the more distinctive blues stylists around, Larry Garner has certainly made many take notice with his perceptive songwriting and his subtle musical attack. His latest album, Standing Room Only (Ruf), is entertaining and probably his most musically up-front album. It, however, suffers from relatively pedestrian songs. Songs like Do Your Personal Thing and Keep the Money seem rather ordinary when compared to some of the gems on his older recordings. The highlights may be his renditions of Gatemouth Brown The Drifter, and Henry Gray swamp-blues, Cold Chills.

When the album lists the producer as Jim Gaines (The Genius) you know something is up. Whatever his genius, Gaines has produced a record that is superficially exciting, but somewhat lackluster when compared to any of Garner earlier albums. In fact JSP has just repackaged, Too Blue, Garner’s second album, and a listen to these performances will perhaps enable some to understand just why Garner has become a favorite to many who know that the blues is more than simply loud guitar pyrotechnics.

Here is Larry Garner performing.

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