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Somebody’s Got To Do It
(Major Label ML016-CD)
Review Date: January 2009
by John Taylor
Well, Bernie’s right … somebody’s got to keep playing heartfelt acoustic blues, the kind orginated by the likes of Mance Lipscomb, Fred McDowell, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Why? Because the music, despite an absence of the relentless beats characteristic of today’s music, retains an undeniable power and potency that continues to resonate today.
This collection, subtitled “Live From Boulevard Music,” presents compelling proof of the music’s relevance. Superbly recorded, Pearl and bassist Michael Barry deliver a stirring set of nine timeless tunes, including his own “Blues For Lightnin’.” True, the lyrics may be a bit dated; few these days would “buy a pony” as a preferred means of transportation down Highway 61. But the sentiment, the urge to chuck it all and go, afflicts us just as much, if not more, in modern times. And Pearl tackles the material with a combination of reverance born of a genuine love for the music, and a lively approach that keeps things thoroughly engaging. Pearl’s fretwork is utterly remarkable, and the intimate recording has a wonderful warmth and ambiance. Vocals are more than adequate though Pearl probably won’t win awards in that particular category.
Pearl has an impressive resume – born into a musical family (his brother opened L.A.’s famed Ash Grove Club), he’s been around for over forty years, leading bands for J. B. Hutto, Koko Taylor, and Freddie King, working with George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, and Big Joe Turner, and booking Howlin’ Wolf, Albert Collins, and Albert King for their L.A. debuts. So it’s fair to say the blues are in good hands here – as Pearl himself says, “All the players I knew were concerned that their music be carried on, and in my own way I try to do it.”
Pearl’s doing a fine job indeed of carrying on tradition while ensuring that the music breathes with vigour and vitality. Every note here is delivered with passion, precision, and love … recommended!
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