Sumlin is rightfully respected throughout the blues world with cross-over acceptance and noted tribute from many of the classic rockers like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page among others. Sumlin spent decades as the guitarist behind the great Howlin' Wolf, and was even scooped up by Muddy Waters for a short time in '56 (an event marked by bitter arguing between Muddy and Wolf). Hubert worked his magic behind Jimmy Reed in the sixties, and offers that he also played on sides by Chuck Berry.
In the years after Wolf's death, Hubert worked on his own solo material, and with Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang (Wolf's backup band). These recordings were produced much later in1990 and they mark Hubert's continued guitar mastery. At the top of his game, Hubert was matched with some absolutely astute talent that spent months touring Europe and the UK prior to these takes. Richard Studholme helps with guitar, bass, acoustic bass, and vocal action, and Steve Thorneycroft sends out the drum beats. The filling harmonies and rhythms of Jack Hill are heard on the piano and Hammond organ.
At the time of recording, there were five original tunes by Hubert on the release. Other covers by Louisiana Red, Lucky Lopez, Carey Bell, acoustic great Larry Johnson, and Mojo Buford also provide musical fodder for Hubert on this biscuit! As always, Hubert's adherence to tradition is always expanded by his innovative chord choices, his incessant jazz-tinged sound, and continued growth in blues wizardry. Singing three of the cuts here, including the opener "All I Can Do", Hubert shows his voice has that seasoned blue dog howl. He stretches the vocal cords a bit further on the following "You Got To Help Me", a slow and audacious groove with sparklin' Sumlin strings.
That is the common denominator throughout; fine strings from Hubert and some powerfully blue selections like "Still Playin' The Blues". As strong today, as when originally released; this biscuit has staying power. Many could take lesson to what constitutes the blues with a listen to this platter! This is one of those got-to-haves that you can't do without!
JSP Records; P.O. Box 1584; London N3 3NW; England: or, www.jsprecords.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.