The Telarc label has been going from strength to strength with its blues
releases over recent years. The quality and range of their output is
reflected on their latest sampler "Now This Is What We Call Blues Vol.
420." Strangely, the review copy only has the catalog numbers of the albums
rather than their titles (which have been included here).
Tinsley Ellis opens with "Hell Or High Water" (from the album of the same
name) at the rockier end of the spectrum. Elsewhere rock tends to take a
back seat, such as on Tab Benoit's "Fast and Free" (from "Wetlands") which
more strongly relies on Louisiana for its sound. Even when Benoit combines
with Jimmy Thackery they stay pretty firmly in blues mainstream for the
slow burner, "Nice and Warm" (from "Whiskey Store") with its very tasty
The first of the straighter blues tracks is the unmistakable sound of James
Cotton with the rocking instrumental "The Creeper" (from "35th Anniversary
Jam"). The Hoodoo Kings also maintain a high tempo with the driving
southern groove of "Hard Times" (from "The Hoodoo Kings"), as does Charlie
Musselwhite on "Big River" (from "One Night In America"). Ronnie Earl gets
mellow, however, for "Twenty Five Days" (from "Ronnie Earl and Friends")
which features his trademark quality guitar playing.
Soul is represented initially by Joe Louis Walker, with the title track
from "In The Morning" which received mixed reviews when it was released.
Jimmy Thackery also gets soulful on "Where'd My Good Friend Go?" from "We
Got It"), an absolute cracker, which makes you want to clap your hands and
tap your feet. The soul sequence is completed by Luther Guitar Junior
Johnson's "Crazy Over You" (from "Talkin' About Soul") another fine song
which is a little marred by a slightly murky mix.
Acoustic blues also gets a look in. Firstly Paul Geremia does a take of
"Get Right Church" (from "Preachin' The Blues" a Fred McDowell tribute
album), showing his prowess on acoustic slide guitar. Annie Raines and Paul
Rishell later do their thing on "I Shall Not Be Moved" (from "Down The Dirt
Road" a Charlie Patton tribute album). Lastly, Colin Linden closes the
album with "Blackbird" (from "The Blues White Album" where blues artists
play songs from the White Album). Linden is a fine guitarist, but the mere
title and concept behind the album makes it sound like one to give a wide
"NTIWWCB Vol 420" offers a good cut-price introduction to Telarc's recent
blues catalogue for anyone who has missed out. The tracks by the Hoodoo
Kings and Jimmy Thackery and Luther Guitar Junior Johnson in particular
have persuaded this reviewer that their albums are worthy of further
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