Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Celebrating the band’s 20 years, Delta Bound is the new Delmark release by Mississippi Heat, the band that is led by harmonica player Pierre Lacocque who also contributes most of the new material. Mississippi Heat has always been a band that has focused on an ensemble sound and supporting its singers. Inetta Visor is still the band’s vocalist, but for this album as an additional treat the band’s original featured vocalist, Deitra Farr, returns for three songs. The rest of the band consists of guitarists Giles Corey and Billy Satterfield; Chris ‘Hambone’ Cameron and Johnny Iguana on keyboards; Joseph Veloz on bass and Kenny Smith on drums. In addition to Deitra Farr, there are guest appearances from Chubby Carrier on accordion for one track, as well as guitarists Carl Weathersby and Billy Flynn.

Lacocque’s growth as a harmonica player is immediately evident with chromatic playing on the torrid opener “Granny Mae,” as Visor is jubilant about her lover returning after 8 long weeks with Smith displaying why he is among the finest living drummers. “Look-A-Here” is a classic Chicago blues shuffle with Deitra Farr handling the vocal about a mistreating lover. Given the infrequency that Deitra Farr has recorded, the three new vocals here with a clean, natural singing is a special treat and Lacocque’s harp also stands out on this and throughout. Farr is long-due for a new album under her own name. Chubby Carrier adds his accordion to “New Orleans Man” with its second line groove and Visor’s singing about her man from Louisiana man who loves everything about her. 

A highlight of this recording might be the rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” that many will be familiar from the Animals recording but was originally waxed by the great Nina Simone. Visor is outstanding here and it is one of the selections on which Weathersby lends his searing guitar. Billy Flynn’s guitar adds a nice touch behind Deitra Farr on “What’s Happening To Me.” “Going to St. Louis” is a jazz-tinged number with a light latin groove with Kenneth Hall on vibes, and the leader on chromatic harmonica. I can’t praise enough Velez and Smith for the the groove they lay down. Weathersby returns to add his fire behind Visor on “Mr. Mistreater,” while “Lemon Twister,” is a nicely paced instrumental with nice interplay between Johnny Iguana on organ and Lacocque on harp as well as a sharp solo from guitarist Giles Corey. “Sweet Ol’ Blues” is a new song about the blues being a trusty companion with another strong vocal from Farr. 

One continues to get impressed by Mississippi Heat. Pierre Lacocque continues to write interesting and varied new blues songs which are rooted in the blues and not blues-rock.Match the material with the tight backing, strong solos and excellent vocals and he continues to bring us after 20 years first-rate and fresh-sounding, new blues. 

I received my review copy from Delmark.  Here is Mississippi Heat with Inetta Visor singing in performance.

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