Saturday, January 02, 2016

Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Rogers Were Genuine Blues Legends

Nothing fancy about the music on "Genuine Blues Legends" (Elrob Records), a release by Chicago blues legends Pinetop Perkins and Jimmy Rogers with Little Mike and the Tornadoes. Harmonica player and leader, (Little) Mike Markowitz and his band of guitarist Tony O. Mello; bassist Brad Vickers and Michael Anderson did yeoman service backing the likes of tours by Perkins and Rogers up and down the East Coast in the late eighties through the mid-nineties. As Pat Morgan, the former manager of Perkins, recalls, Perkins started playing regularly with Little Mike after he left the Legendary Blues Band. Thid in fact resulted in Pinetop's first solo album "After Hours." Rogers and others including Hubert Sumlin, were featured regularly with the Tornadoes, who this writer saw numerous times at the legendary Bethesda, Maryland club, "Twist & Shout."

This is a typical evening of Pinetop and Rogers as they were heard on tour one night in Maine from 1988. Pinetop was never a very demonstrative singer. Rather, he could be very appealing with an easy going, comfortable delivery shown on a number of blues classics that would remain part of his repertoire for over three decades. These include Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson's "Kidney Stew," St. Louis Jimmy's "Going Down Slow" (titled here "Had My Fun"), the Larry Darnell hit "For You My Love," Ivory Joe Hunter's "I Almost Lost My Mind" (titled here "When I Lost My Baby"), and Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith's "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie." That number became a staple of Perkins repertoire decades before and led to his stage name. There is  plenty of Pinetop's fine, reliable piano and these performances are solid, even if he might have made equally fine performances of these songs  in his other recordings.

One wishes there was more of Jimmy Rogers' vocals than the three songs heard here. Rogers was one of the finest singers of Chicago blues with his relaxed, distinctive delivery lending appeal to a cover of "Big Boss Man" along with his own "The Last Time." Pinetop's playing is exceptional on this, and Little Mike and the Tornadoes add lively backing. Rogers addis his own distinctive guitar lines producing some gems of Chicago blues. Rogers adds his guitar into the backing for the rendition of "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie," that is a feverish and exhilarating a performance as Perkins ever produced of this number.

My main complaint about this release is the attribution of composer credit to Pinetop Perkins for "For You My Love" composed by Paul Gayten, and the aforementioned Ivory Joe Hunter and Pinetop Smith songs. Otherwise this is an entertaining reminder of the delightful, sometimes exciting, Chicago blues on tours like the one captured on this release. Perhaps not essential, but certainly a release fans of the two, and Chicago blues, will be interested in.

I received my review copy from a publicist.  Here is Jimmy Rogers with James Cotton.

And here is Pinetop Perkins as part of Mitch Woods' Boogie Woogie Blow-Out.

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