Saturday, July 07, 2012

Lil ‘Ed & The Blues Imperials Jump Start Their Houserocking Blues

Alligator Records has just released the labels eighth album by Lil ‘Ed & The Blues Imperials, “Jump Start. Only Magic Slim and the Teardrops has a lengthier tenure of playing down classic Chicago blues and like Slim, Lil ‘Ed Williams benefits from having stability in his group. In fact, the present line-up of cousin James ‘Pookie’ Young on bass; Michael Garrett on second guitar and Kelly Littleton on drums has been together for nearly 25 years, since right before Ed’s second album, Chicken Gravy & Biscuits. This helps explain the tightness of the performances heard here.

Fans of Lil ‘Ed & the Blues Imperials will find little new on this collection of hard driving slide blues and Chicago shuffles. With the exception of a J.B. Hutto cover, Ed wrote or co-wrote the songs here. There is a mix of a slow, straight blues such as You Burnt Me, where after being left out on the street Ed asks why would he want her back, and the amusing slide-burner Born Loser, on which Ed sings about living on the edge and walk on the wild side but opportunity knocked and his door was locked, and murphy’s law is his motto. On the driving House of Cards, Ed tells his woman that she was living in a dream and the game has turned around and her house of cards is tumbling down after dealing Ed a bad hand with her dating another man.

Jump Right In, is an amusing song about this woman telling him to jump right in to the pool and she’ll teach him to swim and when he is ready for his swimming test she’ll take him to her deep end. Michael Garrett takes the solo on this. Marty Sammon’s organ adds atmospheric to Life Is A Journey, which he wants to share with his woman. Musical Mechanical Electrical Man musically channels uncle J.B. Hutto’s Please Help, as he tells his woman he will fix her up as he has a plan. Ed’s evokes his uncle further on his fervently performed cover of Hutto’s “If You Change Your Mind” with Sammon adding piano behind Ed’s passionate sining and driving slide guitar. It may be the stand-out performance on an album that is consistently entertaining and full of heartfelt blues.

Like the entire body of recordings by Lil ‘Ed and the Blues Imperials, Jump Start will get the party rocking with its good-time houserockin’ blues.

I received a review copy from Alligator Records. Here is Lil 'Ed & the Blues Imperials at the 1993 Pocono Blues Festival. I was at this show. Nearly two decades later they are still going strong.

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