Guitarist Osee Anderson has played with a range of renowned blues and soul artists including Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Al Green and the Chi-Lites(!). He is most likely to be familiar with people through his three year stint with Lonnie Brooks, before he went solo. 1996's "Smokin' NOT! Jokin'" was recorded live in Park City, UT, and captures Anderson on top form.
Anderson sets the joint rocking with Don Robey's "Next Time You See Me," proclaiming his considerable ability as a guitarist. Tastefully delivered in a tone largely reminiscent of his uncle, Albert King, it reflects Anderson's penchant for arranging songs as a guitarfest: with all bar one track clocking up well over five minutes. The results are always controlled, and rarely dull, which allows Anderson to get away with making songs like Muddy Waters' "Country Boy" into an epic.
As well as being a mighty fine guitarist, Anderson is also an accomplished writer, as half the songs on the album will testify. The Texas style shuffle of "I Got A Woman," for example, starts off with a terrific guitar break before things lock into that familiar groove for the verses, with the keyboards very much to the fore. Like all of the rest of the tracks, there are plenty of guitar passages to choose from, though. If you are not a fan of quality electric blues guitar, you should probably have twigged by now that this album may not be for you.
After a fairly straight (albeit extended) "Breakin' Up Somebody's Home," Anderson takes things down low and slow on "Ain't No Road Back Home," before closing the show with a trio of original tunes. The tunes are all more mellow and lightweight than the rest of the album, and have much more of a studio recording feel to them. The funky "The Last To Know" is followed by the jazzier "I Loves Ya Anyway," and the album rounds off in some style with "Mom's Song." This features some very tasteful and mellow electric guitar picking on a positively folk-like instrumental that one could easily imagine Bert Jansch recording.
"Smokin' NOT! Jokin'" shows that Osee Anderson is a fine blues musician. The review copy has a few irritating jumps and clicks on it, which seem to be largely down to the copying process. Overall, however, they do nothing to detract from the quality of Anderson's musicianship. Somebody should sign this guy up, because on the evidence of this album (albeit somewhat dated), Osee Anderson has what it takes to make it into the big league. Well worth tracking down. Now, how about a new recording?
Order CD from Osee at: www.oseeanderson.com
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