Mississippi Heat is an interesting band, over the years it has changed and changed some more. Maybe I should point out that the band members have changed, not the quality of the music. There is not enough room here to discuss all the history of this band, so I will stick to this CD.
Footprints On The Ceiling has the Mississippi Heat band with guest appearances by Billy Boy Arnold, Carl Weathersby & Peter "Madcat" Ruth. Every song on this one has a different mix of players and singers, this makes for a interesting surprise with each track. This band does great job playing Chicago style blues with old time style, while at the same time doing new music. The band is tight, and Pierre blows a great harp.
The first track takes right off, "Goin' Home" is a classic sounding number with vocals by Inetta Visor, she has a whopping good voice that would remind you of Etta James, she sings about going back to the country. The whole tune works great, good vocals, nice solos. "Jean's Jive" is a fine instrumental harp tune, Pierre plays the harmonica on this one in such a way that it sounds more like a horn than a harp (my wife liked it, but kept saying "that's a harmonica??"). It's not the usual harp with many blended notes, more like playing separate notes. I can only compare Pierre's playing in this way to maybe a trumpet player, it's like nothing else I have heard. The entire rhythm on "Jean's Jive" is something new to most, it's unique. "She's Got Everything" jumps into a different groove, more guitar, nice harp. I believe Chris Winters is doing the vocals, the song is about his wife.
We get back to the country with "What Kind Of Man Is That?" This track has a down home sound, it's a story about a man who treats his woman like he owns her, it's a well written song with a message. Billy Boy both sings and plays on this one, you also get dual acoustic guitars for a real nice sound.
"That Ain't Love" comes out of the gate with Pierre on harp opening up this tune, then Inetta's vocals come in for a real classy sound, you get nice horn work here too. "Blues For George Baze" is a tribute to George, he was a longtime member of the Jr Wells band, and more recently a member of Mississippi Heat. This is a hard blow'n harp song deluxe, it is a fine song, in memory of a fine man. You get a good dose of Carl Weathersby on "Caribbean Sunshine", Carl does both vocals and guitar solo work here, he does a great job playing this song written about Pierre's Cuban born wife.
"Caribbean Sunshine" is a fun and easy flowing song, it was a good match for Carl's style.
"Heartbroken" starts with a slow harmonica groove that continues throughout the song, Inetta comes in with the vocals, you also get a nice bit of guitar work late in this one, it all ads up for a nice laid back feel. This is a song written about the passing of Lawrence "Sonny" Wimberly. If you are a fan of harp playing you will really enjoy "Madcat Hop", you get dueling harmonicas all the way through this song with Pierre and Peter "Madcat" Ruth blow'n away, plus a nice slide solo too. You get a country / cowboy feel on this one, kind of a train harmonica sound. With both harp players playing off of each other, and with each other, you get quit a sound. "Hobo Blues" gives you Carl Weathersby on vocals again, this is a smooth ballad with a 50s kind of feel. Pierre plays some light harmonica, the band plays a real easy going line.
Carl sings and plays guitar again on "Still Havin' A Ball", he does a slick solo, and some fine singing. Pierre, the rest of the band, and the background singers do a great job too, a real nice arrangement.
Billy Boy comes back to sing on "Gonna Leave and Let Her Be", a song with his vocals out front and only light instruments that build as the song progresses. This is a song about a man who has made up his mind to leave his woman. "What Else Can I Do" starts with a quiet haunting harp line that echoes on through the song, Inetta sings, then the harp comes alive. This is a very slow number, with nice work from all on organ, guitars & drums too.
The title track "Footprints On The Ceiling" picks up the tempo, Inetta belts out the lyrics on this song, which is the only cover tune on this CD, it makes for a nice finish.
I have mentioned a lot about vocals and harp but the whole band is tight and really does a great job. This CD comes with more than the usual pamphlet, it has a 20 page book that tells you everything about the band, their thoughts, and the who, what & where on the writing and recording of this project, but no lyrics. I think this one is a keeper, it's easy on the ears. Mississippi Heat's Footprints has a fresh sound with an injection of classic styles to make it an enjoyable listen.
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This review is copyright © 2003 by Chris Puyear, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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