The name of seventy-something New York City resident Floyd Lee may not be familiar to many, but Lee has been playing the blues for many years. His most notable gig was with Jimmy Reed, standing in for Eddie Taylor when he was unavailable. It was not until 2001, however, that Lee made his first recording in his own name, the well-received "Mean Blues." Lee has wasted little time in recording the follow up, "Ain't Doing Nothing Wrong."
The opener, "Ridin' On Empty" grabs your attention right away. The delivery takes a leaf out of the Magic Slim and the Teardrops book, without slavishly copying the music. Like most of the songs here it is an original tune, mainly written by guitarist and producer Joel Poluck. Although there is a strong Chicago vein running through the music, the band venture off into the Mississippi Hill Country for "Red Sun." Junior Kimbrough would
have been proud of this one, with its trance-like repetitive riffing guitar, and rock solid support from Brad Vickers (bass) and Mike Fox (drums).
The original tunes fit the band like a glove, and Lee's songs show that he is very much in touch with what is happening in the world. This is most evident on "Crack Alley," a song tackling the problems of crack cocaine, and the way that it can completely take over people's lives. In some ways the song can be viewed as a latter day equivalent of "Tin Pan Alley." Lee also moves the band into funkier territory for "Am I Tough Enough," with George Papageorge strutting his stuff on B3.
Apart from the aforementioned Magic Slim, the original songs include detectable nods towards Howling Wolf ("Nowhere Is Where I Belong" and "Got Love Now Waitin'") and Sonny Boy Williamson II ("Someday"). The three covers also reflect a Chicago bias. "Shake Your Money Maker" is served up as a rattling train time romp, devoid of any slide. The others are both Jimmy Reed tunes. "Tie A String" is not immediately recognizable as a Reed tune, and Lee plays harp in a higher register than Reed would have done, but it all still hangs together. The album closes out with a swagger on "Can't Stand To See You Go," performed sans harp.
Floyd Lee's "Ain't Doin' Nothin' Wrong" certainly lives up to the title. It is a very fine album delivered with plenty of guts and passion. Those who like their blues done in a Magic Slim kind of way--is there anyone who does not?--will be particularly attracted to this one. Someone should sign these guys up because they deserve to have their music heard by a much bigger audience. Highly recommended.
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