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CD Review
Bill Perry
"Greycourt Lightning"
Pointblank Records 7243 8 45515 2 0, 13 tracks, 52 minutes
by Ann Wickstrom annw@osas.com
One by one, blues fans are starting to say things like, "I've been hearing about Bill Perry. Who is he?" Those who aren't asking should be.

Perry is a 38-yr.-old guitarist from upstate New York who first gained national attention touring with former Band members Garth Hudson and Rick Danko and also from a long association with Richie Havens. "Greycourt Lightning" is his second release. 1995's "Love Scars" earned praises from all corners, being called "an astounding solo debut" by Guitar Player magazine.

This album takes an expanded instrumental approach, with horns, piano, and Hammond B3 added to the basics. It has eleven strong originals and two covers, "Blue Suede Shoes" and Robert Johnson's "Come On In My Kitchen", on which we first hear the beginning of Johnson's scratchy original and then Perry's own funky version.

Perry's voice bears a striking similarity to Keb Mo's: gritty and earthy. His guitar playing has slivers of Hendrix and slices of SRV but is mainly an original sound that takes many interesting and inventive turns along the way. I couldn't help but notice the nice piano playing on this album too and was tickled (pun intended) to find out it was Tom Hunter, who grew up in the same area as Perry and is now touring with Bernard Allison but has spent the last few years playing in the Twin Cities.

"Your Smile" is a soulful R & B song featuring acoustic guitar, until about 2/3 of the way through when it screeches to a halt and re-emerges as a scorching rocker. This ability to surprise the listener is one of Perry's best assets. "Sneakin' Around" is a slow burner with fierce guitar solos, including a few rounds sent through a cry baby. "Trust in You" will appeal to fans of Delta-style slide guitar, and the title track is a very catchy swing tune that rocks -- or is it a rock tune that swings?

Perry has succeeded in his goal of "capturing a strong, modern blues feel." He wanted to add more instrumentation on this album, yet avoid slickness and keep it raw. Mission accomplished! Highly recommended!

This review is copyright 1998 by Ann Wickstrom, all rights reserved.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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