"Blues Is In The House" is the second solo album from Johnny Jones, following on from the excellent "I Was Raised On The Blues" which appeared a couple of years back on the Black Magic label. It also maintains the recent resurgence of blues from the once burgeoning Nashville scene, instigated by the indomitable Fred James. As such, it slots in neatly alongside recordings from the likes of Earl Gaines, Al Garner, and Charles Walker.
The album opens with "A Fool Never Learns," the first of four tunes penned by Fred James who also doubles up on rhythm guitar and as producer. It is a cracking tune which features some tasty licks from Jones on guitar, punctuated by Dennis Taylor's sax fills. Backing it up is an excellent grinding version of Dave Mackenzie's "Girlfriend Blues," a tale with a neat twist to it. These two tracks pretty much set the scene for the rest of the album, with Jones the centerpiece of the action. He has a terrific soulful voice, and always manages to find a guitar solo that matches the mood of the song just perfectly.
Stylistically, Jones runs the full gamut from slow ballads "I'm Gonna Love You" up to rambunctious rockers like "Stacked In The Back." The album also provides a real treat in the shape of an updating of part one of "Really," a rocking instrumental that Jones originally recorded as a two-part single back in 1963. Pick of the tracks though are "Why Can't We Be Alone" with its subtly funky beat, some excellent work on keyboards by Billy Earheart, and Jones providing the perfect fills on guitar. The best is saved until last, when Jones duets with Charles Walker on the title track. Everything slots together just about perfectly, on a real toe-tapper that you can imagine going down a storm at a live show.
"Blues Is In The House" is another fine album, from a fine artist. It makes an excellent contribution to the recent set of CDs coming out of the Nashville tradition, so those who like Charles Walker, Earl Gaines and Al Garner will find plenty to admire here. Hats off to Fred James for bringing these guys back to the blues public's notice. Special praise to for the Northern Blues Music label (www.Northernblues.com) who may not be prolific, but everything they release seems to be worth tracking down, and "Blues Is In The House" is no exception.
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