John Brim has been a fixture on the Chicago blues scene for over 50 years. Born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1922, Brim relocated to the Windy City with his guitar and vocal prowess in 1945. In 1946, Brim met his future wife Grace and they were married a year later. Up until her death in June 1999, the Brims were partners in every sense of the word; living, loving, writing and playing the blues together. Given his exceptional talent, it is not a surprise that his other musical "partners" represent a veritable "Who's Who" of the blues, including Muddy Waters, Big Maceo, Little Walter, Albert King, Sonny Boy Williamson I and Earl Hooker, just to name a few.
Brim's recording career has been rather spotty since the 1950's, including a couple of self-recorded singles in 1971, four tracks for Wolf Records in 1989 and his solo release on Tone Cool Records in 1994, Ice Cream Man. After another six year hiatus, Brim has released his latest solo release called Jake's Blues on Anna Bea Records. With a band that includes Billy Flynn (guitar), Jan Arenas (guitar), Rick Gerek (harp), P.T. Pederson (bass), Matt Libon (drums) and the spirit of Grace Brim, Jake's Blues offers thirteen original tracks (all but one written or co-written by Brim). The CD is alive with a classic Chicago sound and hard hitting proof that as he nears the age of 80, John Brim is still a formidable bluesman.
Jake's Blues opens with a song entitled "Tougher Times," a reminder that times are tougher than ever in the world today. The opener is characterized by Brim's solid vocals and some fine harp work by Rick Gerek. "Tougher Times" is followed by a song called "Walking With Grace," an out take instrumental shuffle that is heavy on harp and that generates images of Little Walter or Sonny Boy performing in some smokey Chicago nightclub in the 1950's.
The remainder of Jake's Blues is filled with classic, hard-edged Chicago blues featuring excellent guitar from Brim, Arenas and the incomparable Billy Flynn. When Rick Gerek's harp isn't taking the lead, it provides nice backing fills to compliment the music and Brim's emotion-filled vocals. Songs like "What May Be Your Name" with its heavy slow blues sound and slide guitar are offered in contrast to more up tempo numbers like "You Put The Hurt On Me." To provide additional variety, a couple of acoustic numbers are thrown in for good measure ("No Place To Go" and "Oooowee"), offering a raw down home feeling. The second out take on the CD, "Boogie Down," is a rocking boogie and a guaranteed toe tapper.
Capping off the highlights on Jake's Blues are "Dedicated to Grace (Parts 1 &2), a pair of songs where Brim makes it clear just how much he loved and misses his late wife Grace. The pair of songs are filled with emotion and some great blues music from Brim and company.
John Brim is a living Chicago blues legend and Jake's Blues is a "must own" recording for any aficionado of Chicago blues. To learn more about the remarkable life of John Brim and to pick up any of his available recordings, visit his website at www.johnbrim.com.
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order another CD by John Brim!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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