Saturday, July 28, 2012

Linsey Alexander Has Been There Done That

There are several songs on Linsey Alexander's Delmark debut Been There Done That that if were recorded thirty years ago would be viewed as blues classics. Mississippi born and growing up in Memphis, he has been part of the Chicago blues scene and even produced some independent CDs and finally has this CD for an established label.

He and his guitar is backed by a terrific band of Roosevelt Purifoy on keyboards, Breezy Rodio and Mike Wheeler on guitar, Greg McDaniel on bass and James Wilson on drums. Several tracks have Ryan Nyther on trumpet and Bryan Fritz on tenor saxophone, while Billy Branch adds his harmonica to three tracks. Alexander wrote (or co-wrote) all but one of the twelve songs, the exception being a Willie Kent number. Listening to this recording I was reminded of some of the Willie Kent Delmark albums as well as some other from Lefty Dizz, Big Moose Walker and Willie James Lyons from the seventies. 

Raffle Ticket, opens with some strong harp in the backing as Alexander asks his baby, "what is the name of that game you playing on me" as she came back on a Wednesday night with a diamond ring which she claimed she won with a lottery. This is a classic Chicago blues performance with Branch wailing on the harmonica and the band hitting that groove as Alexander tells his woman when she goes out Saturday night to get her raffle ticket wet. His singing is so natural and full of feeling, although his buzz-tone guitar solo is a bit generic. The next track Bad Man has a crisp, funky groove and riffing horns as he sings about smoking his "pipe till I go to hell," with nice guitar from Rodio and him here. I Had a Dream is a straight, slow blues that he delivers in a very intense manner.

The title track is more in a soulful vein (suggestive of Tyrone Davis) and sung as naturally in this vein as he sings straight blues. If he is looking down from Heaven, Willie Kent has to be smiling at Alexander's cover of Look's Like It's Going To Rain, while he continues with the traditional Chicago blues sound on My Mama Gave Me The Blues. It opens singing about his elders telling him when you sing the blues when you die you will go straight to hell, but Linsey is still on earth and has his story to tell. Billy Branch channels Little Walter on chromatic harmonica with terrific playing on this song. Branch also is present on the excellent The Same Time I Could Tell Myself, with lyrics about Linsey not wanting a woman to tell him things he already knows or will go wrong cheating and lying.

On the closing Saving Robert Johnson, he sings about going to Highway 61 where it runs into 49 where Robert Johnson sold his soul and Linsey said email the devil or poke him on Facebook so Linsey can meet the Devil at the Crossroads to free Robert Johnson's soul. It has perhaps a silly lyric although the performance is solid. It may be the weakest track on Been There Done That, but that does not diminish the fact that this is a most impressive blues recording which is one of the finer blues albums I have heard this year. His is a voice I want to here more from.

I received this from the record company. Here is a performance by Linsey.

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