The Live One
Alligator (2003) ALCD 4890
10 tracks, 43 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: May 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
He's not known as the "Shuffle Master" because of slow gait when he walks, the nickname Sam Lay earned comes from his ability to lay down a driving and relentless backbeat, and it's shown to good effect in his latest offering, I Get Evil on the Random Chance label, which follows work on Appaloosa, Evidence, and Telarc. Joined by longtime sidekick Fred James on guitar, Celia Ann Price's piano and organ, Greg "Fingers" Taylor's solid harmonica, and Ken Smith's bass, Lay has a fine band
in tow out in front of his drumkit. Jimmy Reed's You're So Fine bristles along with great harp from Taylor and James dishes out some sizzling guitar on both Lowell Fulson's Black Night and Albert King's I Get Evil, and Price's piano work underneath darts from the shadows to add considerably to the feeling. Mean Disposition from the Muddy Waters book gets a nice reading with more excellent fretwork from James and Taylor steps forward again on Buster Brown's Fannie
Mae, and Jay McShann's Hands Off rides along the familiar mojo groove. Sam Lay puts a decisive edge on all these covers and his workmanlike vocals have always been a pleasure, but true gems here show a side of Sam Lay perhaps not many were aware of. From his early days behind Howlin' Wolf, later with the Paul Butterfield band, through his most recent work, we've come to recognize Sam as one of the best drummers in the business, but not many will know of his guitar playing. Three of the four cuts featuring Lay's guitar may be somewaht worn, but hearing him play convincingly in a country blues style on amplified six string for Rock Me Baby, Boogie Chillen,
and Muddy's Still A Fool is as refreshing as the long-awaited warmer winds after a particularly harsh winter, and his own slow and deliberate instrumental, Sam's Big Boy, is just as satisfying. This revelation makes I Get Evil from Sam Lay one of the biggest surprises in recent memory for those already familiar with his effortless drumming.
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