"Double Dealin'…is in a different class, and is easily one of the best albums of the year so far."
It is hard to believe that Lucky Peterson made his first record over 30 years ago, and yet is still only 36. Peterson has come a long way since the legendary Willie Dixon produced his R&B hit "1-2-3-4." Along the way he has worked alongside Little Milton and Bobby Bland and done session work with Etta James, Kenny Neal and Otis Rush. "Double Dealin'" shows that all the hard work is paying off.
Jimmy McCracklin's "Double Dealing" opens the album, and grabs your attention straight away, with some guitar work that will blister your paintwork. It is a powerful soul/blues number in the same sort of vein which calls to mind both Luther Allison and Sherman Robertson. As well as being a highly accomplished guitarist, and a very fine singer, Peterson also plays Hammond B3 throughout the album.
After strolling through the comparatively restrained "It Ain't Safe," we get to "When My Blood Runs Cold." This is the first of five original tunes, two of which are by keyboard player Jon Cleary. It is a slow tale of love and loss, replete with heartfelt guitar solo, and appropriately sympathetic piano (Jon Cleary) and horns from Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett (the Texacali Horns). Peterson's guitar here, and on the ensuing cover of Marty Grebb's "Smooth Sailing" hints at Albert King.
The two numbers by Jon Cleary show off the more funky (New Orleans) side of Peterson. "Mercenary Baby" positively swaggers, and has a very catchy hook line, whilst "Doin Bad, Feelin' Good" employs the same sort of keyboard sound that Stevie Wonder first unveiled on "Superstition." In between these two, there is plenty of good stuff, including a terrific sax break from Joe Sublett on "Ain't Doin' Too Bad" and Peterson sounding like he is conducting a vocal duet on Andre Williams' "3 Handed Woman"--left handed, right handed and underhanded in case you were wondering.
The album closes out with two more originals. "4 Little Boys" tells the moving tale of Peterson's father, James, and his brothers. James' mother died when he was just 16 months old, and she made her husband promise not to put the boys up for adoption. By way of contrast the album closes in rollicking style, pretty much as it began, with "Remember The Day." A cracking end to a cracking album which had this reviewer reaching for the replay button straight away.
Right now on the blues scene, there is a lot of good stuff about, and a reasonable amount of very good stuff. "Double Dealin'," however, is in a different class, and is easily one of the best albums of the year so far. Peterson has firmly staked his claim alongside the modern standard bearers of the blues such as Robert Cray, Kenny Neal, and Sherman Robertson. You can find our more about "Double Dealin'" on the Blue Thumb pages (www.bluethumb.com). Highly recommended.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, 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.
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