In 2006, Duke Robillard put a track called “Blues-A-Rama” on his “Guitar Groove-A-Rama” album, sixteen minutes demonstrating his expertise of different styles and paying tribute to a dozen guitarists who have influenced him over the years.
“World Full Of Blues” comes across as an extension of that. Robillard hardly stays in one style for two consecutive tracks. You like T-Bone Walker? Listen To “Treat Me So Lowdown”. Chicago style? Try “You’re Killin’ Me Baby”. Straight-ahead jazz? Give the cover of Wardell Gray’s “Stoned” a go. Organ and guitar groove? The nine minutes of “Stretchin’” summons up the ghost of Jimmy Smith. Jump blues? Guess what “Jump The Blues For You” sounds like.
The only problem might be that this ends up sounding more like a CV than a CD. Duke Robillard has considerable expertise in several areas of blues and jazz and this album (which according to Stony Plain “contains free bonus CD” but which Robillard’s own notes call a double CD) sounds like what he might send out rather than going to an audition.
About half the tracks are originals. The others show an interesting selection of class songwriters often represented by more unusual songs, such as Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken” and Tom Waits’ “Low Side Of The Road”, both by former employers, Eric Bibb’s “Too Much Stuff” and Booker T and the MGs’ “Slim Jenkins Joint”.
Everything is expertly played, as one would expect from Robillard, and his versatility can keep your mouth open for nearly two hours. As an added bonus his vocals are improving. While he’s no Delbert McClinton, he sounds much more confident these days, which can often be enough to get by in blues singing. The album is well presented with full personnel details and notes by Robillard about each track.
Call me hard to please though, but I keep asking myself, “Doesn’t he know what he likes playing most himself? He’s good at everything, but what sort of music does he love?”
Technically, everything on this album is excellent. If you want a varied blues album without buying a sampler, this fits the bill nicely. Does that sound like damning with faint praise?