Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rip Lee Pryor - Nobody But Me

There is nothing fancy about the new CD by Rip Lee Pryor, Nobody But Me (Electro-Fi). Pryor is the son of the late blues legend and blues harmonica pioneer, Snooky Pryor, but started learning to play harmonica when his father had dropped out of music. He played with his dad for a time, but in recent years had walked away from music, and recently resumed after bouts with gambling problems and cancer (now in remission). On this Rip Lee plays harmonica (using a rack) and guitar with Alex Fraser or Bucky Berger adding drums on several selections.

His father and John Lee Williamson (the first Sonny Boy Williamson) are obvious influences on his playing especially on the opening Shake Your Boogie that both Sonny Boy I and Snooky recorded. His guitar playing is pretty bare, just laying down a bare bass riff on most selections over which he sings and plays his crying harmonica. He is a very expressive singer (like his take on Elmore James’ You Gotta Move, but also handles the humor of Rice Miller’s rendition of an old English folk song, the delightful Wake Up Baby, with Fraser’s bass and circus drum adding support.

The title track is an original with Rip Lee laying down some boogie guitar to get a rocking groove which underlies his driving harp solo. Another original Lonesome, is a moody slow blues with some strong harp to accent his pleading vocal. Heard The News, credited to Snooky, is an easy boogie shuffle that incorporates Good Rocking Tonight, I Feel So Good as well as Snooky’s own Boogie Twist. Stuck on Stupid is a Rip Lee original with a Jimmy Reed boogie groove. His father’s Pitch a Boogie Woogie has Berger’s drums which helps propel the easy rocking boogie performance here with some real fine harmonica here.

The music here is pretty straight-forward and as Scott Bock observes in his liner notes, Rip Lee has a pretty stripped down sound. Nothing fancy perhaps, but Rip Lee Pryor proves he doesn’t need Nobody But Me for a straight dose of classic Chicago blues that is increasingly rare.

I purchased this.  Here is a video of Rip Lee Pryor in performance and he will be at the Pennsylvania Blues Festival this July and the link is to my Festival preview.

No comments: