Cab Driving Man
No surprises with Mississippi Heat's new album, "Cab Driving Man." It is the latest reording in the 25 year career of this Chicago-based band, and the seventh by Pierre Lacocque and band for Delmark. In addition to the harmonica of Lacocque (who contributed most of the songs), he is joined by the present line-up of vocalist Inetta Visor, guitarist and sometimes vocalist Michael Dotson, bassist Brian Quinn, and drummer Terrence Williams, with several tracks having Giles Corey and guitar (and he shares a vocal on one track with Visor), Ricky Nelson on bass and Kenny Smith on drums. Chris 'Hambone Cameron' plays keyboards except on two tracks by Sumito Ariyo. Sax Gordon adds horns to five selections, Dave Spector adds guitar to one and Ruben Alvarez adds percussion to four tracks. Lacocque wrote ten of the 16 tracks, co-wrote one with Cameron, Dotson wrote thee, and there are two covers.
Those familiar with Mississippi Heat from having seen them perform or previous recordings will find little to surprise them. This is a nice collection of Chicago blues performed in a sterling manner from the opening notes of "Cupid Bound," a solid shuffle (with melodic hints of Little Walter's "Just Your Fool") with strong harmonica, a typical fine vocal from Visor and blistering guitar break from Dotson to the closing instrumental feature for Lacocque's chromatic playing, "Hey Pipo!"
While it is hard to single out specific tracks, "Flowers on My Tombstone," has a terrific lyric as Visor sings "it would be a miracle when I die, if you lay flowers on my tombstone," sounding as if she feels like a wild goose with a hunter aiming at her to claim his prize as she swallows her pride and could have left her husband a long time ago, but stayed for the kids to watch them grow. The backing is simply classic Chicago band blues with pumping piano, solid drumming from Kenny Smith and great harp. The feel shifts on the following track "Icy Blue," which has a more funky feel and there is slide guitar adding to its flavor.
Giles Corey joins Visor for a solid cover of the Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure classic "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing." Michael Dotson may not be as distinctive singing, but he provides a contrasting approach on his straight-forward style perhaps best sampled on the boogie blues "The Last Go Round." Also nice is the jazz-tinged "Life Is Too Short," as Visor again captivates with her vocal. The rest of this recording is of a similar level with wonderful playing, blues singing and strong, varied, mostly original material. Lovers of Chicago blues can not go wrong with Mississippi Heat, as "Cab Driving Man" again provides proof.
I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is Mississippi Heat in performance in 2016.