One of the finest albums of the 1990s was the first collaboration between guitar icon Roy Rogers and harmonica phenomenon Norton Buffalo. That 1991 debut, "R&B," was followed up a year later by "Travellin' Tracks," nearly it's equal. The disc in hand is the first by the dynamic duo since. It is different from the first efforts in that there are more co-written songs and more of an acoustic flavor. It is every bit as appealing as those decade old discs, though. From the opening "Don't Throw Your Changes on Me," the tone is set. Harp and guitar interplay is seamless behind Rogers' vocals ("You've been running wild/acting crazy/some day baby I will have had enough"). Buffalo's "All I Want" demonstrates the beauty of their interplay better than any other cut here, with Rogers acoustic and Buffalo's almost cinematic harp drop-in setting the backdrop for Buffalo's warm vocals. "If I Were A King" is a campfire song that's only missing the moos of the cattle. OK, most campfires don't have violin, fiddle and congas, but it's about the attitude, after all. Inserted into the middle of the set is a gorgeous guitar and harmonica instrumental, "Ritmo De Las Almas," penned by the two that showcases the masterful chops of the players.
Though they're both able to crank volume and intensity, the appeal of this disc is that their concentration is always on nuance and expressive playing. "Seven Hearts" is such a number. This is no cliché' blues. There's even a hint of Marty Robbins' in the 6-plus minute opus. Buffalo warns "Seven hearts will break tonight/seven hearts will cry/seven hearts will leave their mates" while playing jaw-dropping chromatic. The following "Highway Bound" is a sand-floor dancer that leads into the closing instrumental, "Happy Go Lucky," which is about two-and-a-half minutes of joyful quickstep.
This is one of the finest recordings of the year and signals the return of one of the best duets to ever walk into a recording studio or grace a stage. Welcome back fellas.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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