Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WIlliam Clarke Live In Germany

The late William Clarke is still greatly missed by those who knew him since he passed over a decade and a half ago. One of the first posthumous new releases of his music was Live in Germany. The following review appeared back in the February 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 279). I purchased this recording.

The late William Clarke had established himself as among the premiere harmonica players and performers in blues when he passed in 1996. His widow, Jeanette Clarke Lodovici, has previously issued some unreleased studio recordings for Clarke’s many fans and has just produced a new CD, Live in Germany, (Watch Dog) that should be welcome by Clarke fans and those who love great blues harp.

From the opening notes of Blown’ Like Hell, a torrid instrumental showcasing his strong driving play and full tone, to the closing moments of Lollipop Mama, Clarke was in top form. He was backed by a terrific band that included on guitar (and vocal on Charles Brown’s I Cried Last Night), Willie Brittle on bass and Eddie Clark on drums. Most of the performances are interpretations of some terrific, but not over-recorded numbers from Muddy Waters, Walter Horton and Mercy Dee Walton.

Clarke’s strength as a singer is such that he can make a classic like One Room Country Shack, his own. New releases of Clarke are very welcome, but it’s a bonus that the music is as good as it is here.

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