A Chicago Blues CD recorded in Stockholm by Swedish musicians and reviewed by some guy from Pittsburgh, Pa. for a Minneapolis based web-site. This is the exact type of situation that I'd hoped would develop at the outset of the world - wide web and something that, I think, is on the verge of being taken for granted. The Blues scene, being so far flung and specialized as opposed to other forms of music, benefits immeasurably from the immediate access of performers and fans to the music that they love regardless of the miles that may separate them.
While awaiting the arrival of this CD via snail mail, I pondered what approach I might take with my review. Would I center my comments on the validity of a
foreign version of a uniquely American art form? More importantly, could such an approach serve to under cut whatever strengths the music I was about experience
contained? Then I remembered. This is Blues, not rocket science and I should, as always, react to the material at hand in a visceral way and comment accordingly.
"Blues Down Town" is vintage 50's style Chicago Blues played with emotion by musicians who understand the idiom and are experienced enough to breath life into
material that is too often approached as a museum piece and not the vibrant musical force that it still is.
Roughly half the 16 tracks are originals alongside a nice mix of well - known and more obscure covers. Singer - harpist Thomas Grahn and guitarist Claes
Parmland wrote the originals with Grahn receiving credit for three, Parmland one and three being collaborations, including the set's centerpiece.
"I Walked The Streets", is seven minutes of moody remorse punctuated by plaintive vocals, tortured harp work and spectral guitar chords that levitate the song. and carry it through the late night mists before fading out at dawn.
The covers are highlighted by the Willie Dixon chestnut "The Same Thing" and instrumental, "Moanin' for Molasses". The interplay between Parmland and
fellow guitarist Thomas Prim propels both cuts. The former is a pure Chicago tavern workout while the later clocks in at 2:33 of concise elation, aided and abetted by guest J.T. Holmstrom's Saxophone.
Other standout cuts include Grahn's romping "Wild, Wild Woman" and the Little Walter Jacobs double feature, "Little Girl" and "Don't Have to Hunt No More" which acknowledges the harpists' debt to Jacobs' influence.
Gotgatan 28, 118 46 Stockholm, Sweden
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