Grady Champion has certainly seen his star rise in recent years after his winning of the International Blues Challenge. His success comes after he had recorded several albums for Shanachie which unfortunately at the time did not have the commercial success they were hoping for. In fact, Dennis Walker, with Bruce Bromberg, had produced Robert Cray and Joe Louis Walker amongst others, did some of the production of these recordings. Now Grady has compiled and released a selection of 17 songs from these recordings, Shanachie Days (GSM Music Group).
A number of these songs will be familiar to those who have seen Grady or his recent Live album, such as his anthemic My Rooster Is King, Dreamin’, or Policeman’s Blues, the latter dealing with him suffering police brutality. Other songs, like Lady Luck, about his misfortune at the casino as he asks where did you go are supported by a hard-hitting backing band and sound fresh today.
Mixed in with his fervent singing is some nice harmonica playing which is particularly well displayed on the country-flavored Roberta, with nice dobro, as well as mandolin, set against a lazy groove. There is a more of an urban rhythm and blues flavor with the brass and backing vocals Love Is My Middle Name, where he tells his girl that when she is tired of the games others play, she can count on him to make her happy. It is followed here by the crisp shuffle groove of Let Me Be, as he tells his woman that they have had this conversation one too many times.
This writer had heard some of the Shanachie recordings when they came out, but it is nice to have my memory refreshed as well as listening to other sides I was not familiar with. The music certainly will please Grady’s fans and may be as good an introduction to his music as his most recent recordings, I do wish they had included the original discographical information (what were the original albums and personnel). Other than that, there is not music to complain about Grady Champion’s Shanachie Days.
My review copy was provided by a publicist. Here is Grady in performance backed by Eddie Cotton on guitar.