Bullseye Blues Basics Series
This new series from Rounder Records' Bullseye division starts out with four big names. More Bullseye Blues Basics releases are planned, but these CDs mark the first batch to hit the stores, and it's not a bad selection of artists. You get many "best of"-style song selections and ample notes in each CD, an especially good way for a new blues follower to begin a collection. Best of all, these CDs are moderately priced so you won't feel a big dent in your pocketbook.
J.B. Hutto & the New Hawks
"Rock With Me Tonight"
On these recordings from Hutto's final sessions in 1983, the wild slide man is backed by his regular band as well as special appearances by pianist Ron Levy and several current and ex-sax players from Roomful of Blues (including Greg Piccolo, who is now making waves of his own). Hutto died of cancer at 57 just a few months after these sessions, which makes them even more poignant. Here he plays mostly his own tunes but also tackles Junior Parker's "Pretty Baby," Howlin' Wolf's "I'm Leaving You," and Fenton Robinson's "Somebody Loan Me a Dime" (another version like this you aren't likely to hear).
This is a very good sampling from the last quarter or so of the Texas Twister's career, captured on six albums for Rounder that spanned the length of the 80's. It includes big band blues tunes with horns, the more stripped-down "Don't Stop by the Creek, Son" (with Stevie Ray Vaughan), and "Kasavubu," an interesting blend of American blues and African music. It features a number of African musicians, particularly percussionists, and it's recording marked the first joint effort between players of the two genres.
Robert Jr. Lockwood
"Just the Blues"
Lockwood is one of the few living guitarists whose career has extended across the entire history of the blues. This release is gleaned just from his two early 80's albums with Johnny Shines; still, it is a good one and Lockwood is the front man on all tracks here. There are some acoustic duets and some full-blown band numbers. By themselves, the funky "Here It Is, Brother" and his classic "We're Gonna Ball Tonight" make it worth your dime.
Clarence Gatemouth Brown
"Okie Dokie Stomp"
If you don't have any "Gate," this is a great choice. It showcases the best from his three Rounder albums of the early/mid 80's, two studio and one live. "Alright Again" was a Grammy winner and "One More Mile" was Grammy-nominated. The title track here is a must, and you'll also enjoy Roy Milton's "Information Blues" and Albert Collins' "Frosty." Bonus track: a rare ten-minute live version of "The Drifter," recorded at the 1982 Bern International Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Ann Wickstrom, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.