Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Johnny Jones and Charles Walker Are In the House

Johnny Jones and Charles Walker
In the House
Crosscut ccd 11066

I Can’t Do That -1/ The Drifter -2/ Slave to Love -2/ Gypsy Woman -2/ Finger Lickin’/
They All Look Better in Green -2/ Can I Get an Amen-1/ Chicken Scratch -2/ Storming and Raining Blues-2/ Strain on MY Heart-2, -3/ 99,000 Watts of Soul Power -2, -3/ Nothing a Little Girl Can Do -1,-3. 57:39.

Johnny Jones, g, vcl-1; Charles Walker, v-2; Fred James, rh g, bkg vcl -3; Mary-Ann Brandon, bkg vc-3; Billy Earheart, Hammond or; Jeff Davis, b; Andy Arrow, d. Lucerne, Switzerland, Nov. 10 & 12, 1999.

In The House is a live recording from the 1999 Lucerne Blues Festival by two members of Nashville’s soul and blues community, singer-guitarist Johnny Jones, and singer Charlie Walker, backed by a small band led by Fed James who has played such an important role in revitalizing not only the careers of Jones and Walker, but also Roscoe Shelton and Earl Gaines. 

Jones spent many years on the road with Bobby Bland, as well as was guitarist for Nashville’s Jimmy Beck Band and was bandleader for the acclaimed sixties’s rhythm and blues show, The Beat! that was hosted by legendary deejay Bill ‘Hoss’ Allen (some may be familiar with this show from the video of Freddy King, The Beat!) Walker is a veteran vocalist who first recorded Slave to Love for the Champion label backed by the Jimmy Beck band. later he moved to New York recording for Fire/Fury, Chess and other labels, living in Europe before moving back stateside in the nineties. 

Guitarist Jones is a fleet player and strong singer with a tinge of soul in his delivery on “Can I Get an Amen” his strongest vocal, but he also does a nice job on Don Covay’s “Nothing a Young Girl Can Do.” Good as Jones is, he can’t send chills down your spine like Walker’s deep soul delivery can. He reprises his “Slave to Love” with Jones adding some nimble guitar fills and solo, but really gets down on “Strain on My Heart.” pouring everything into his delivery. “Finger Lickin’” is an instrumental that puts guitars up front. I would have preferred some horns in the band, and perhaps a slight bit more soul feel to some of the arrangements, but it does not diminish the performances. 

Having seen Walker and Jones at the 2000 Pocono Blues Festival, this disc reaffirms my impression of their excellent performance there, and if these two come to your town, do not miss them. 

This review was written in 2001 for Cadence. I made some minor edits for the format of this blog. I likely received my review copy from the publication. While Johnny Jones passed away a couple years back, Charlie Walker is still with us and thrilling us with his singing as heard in this video.

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