In reference to this title, I believe that is the truth -- THESE blues all belong to Tab Benoit, and most of it is pretty cool! To start, it takes a lot of nerve to cover Albert King's "Crosscut Saw," most blues fans have heard local bar bands butcher it time and time again, and personally, I've never heard a cover version that can touch King's original, and I do feel the same about this one, although Benoit does put in an admirable effort.
What sets Benoit apart from many of his peers is his slightly left-of-center musicality. Benoit's playing is characterized by eccentric, witty, stutter-step guitar melodies, with parenthetical asides, that echo, among others Albert Collins, and shy away from the overly precise, too clean, and too fast solo playing that mark much of what is being sold as blues these days.
An interesting side note, as good as Tab Benoit is at singing, and playing, ol' Slim is really digging the organ in this band. Subtle but perfect, voicings and textures set up Benoit impeccably, where many keyboardists need to show everyone within earshot how well they can play, this guy just lays back and grooves, padding the deft spaces left by Benoit, as he skips across the chord progressions as naturally, and as unpredictably, as a flat stone thrown across the surface of some water.
Of note is a version of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya," that sounds more Texas, a la Delbert McClinton, than the territory east of there that's the actual source of those culinary delights. There's an R&B ballad, "Keep Yourself From Crying Too," that touches on an almost Arthur Alexander-ish melancholy beauty, and a Nawlins style rave up celebrating that Louisiana staple, the inimitable mudbug, and of course, some shuffling, good time boogie, and some slow blues.
Tab Benoit made me laugh more than once on this record, there are times when its "obvious" that he's played himself into a corner, and at the last instant, there's a fake one way, and a swerve the next, and the phrase is resolved, with coherence and grace, humor and wit. A couple of times I found myself thinking, "did he do that on purpose?" The same question I'd asked of , oh, Lightnin' Hopkins, or Monk. And naturally, as with Hopkins and Monk, by the end of a phrase, it’s clear, of course it's on purpose.
Straight ahead, modern blues with more than a nod to the roots, "THESE BLUES ARE ALL MINE" really find a deep, yet solitary niche for Monsieur Benoit, one that should showcase his individual take on the blues for some time to come.
from Austin, Texas -- Guadalupe Slim
This review is copyright © 1999 by Guadalupe Slim, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.