Grady Champion is one of the young bluesmen who have been tabbed as one of the next generation of blues performers. However, unlike some of the better known youngsters" including Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Susan Tedeschi, Shemekia Copeland and other rising young blues stars, the 28 year old Champion does not have a "major" label record contract. If you want to listen to Grady's CD, Goin' Back Home, dive into your current issue of "Blues Review" or "Living Blues" and order the CD via the mail or online from his webpage http://www.icanect.net/grady-champion. If you take the plunge, I guarantee that you will find the CD worth a listen.
Goin' Back Home features eleven songs, nine originals by Grady Champion and two covers ("Scratch My Back" and "Born Blind"). On the CD, Champion demonstrates that he is not only an excellent singer and harmonica player, but also an accomplished songwriter. It's amazing that in spite of appearances with Luther Allison, Lucky Peterson and Junior Wells, Champion has not been able to gain wider recognition of his talent. Perhaps this CD will help him to gain the attention of a major blues label that can finally put the Canton, Mississippi born Champion on the blues map.
Champion's singing and his ability to work a crowd has garnered him comparisons to Luther Allison and Robert Johnson, while his harmonica talent has placed him in the same company with none other than Sonny Boy Williamson. While the CD always puts Champion's harp skills in the forefront, he never seems to overpower his band, using them to make his sound that much stronger. Goin' Back Home touches on a range of sounds and styles, demonstrating Champion's versatility has a harp player and vocalist. Sounds range from smooth and soulful to traditional acoustic. Some of the highlights on the CD include the title track "Goin' Back Home," including some good piano/harmonica exchanges and great slide guitar from Ben Peeler. Also notable is the song "Brother, Brother," a song with some good harmonica and a smooth soulful sound. "Love and Memories (My Mama's Song)" is dedicated to Champion's mother and has a great gospel sound to it. Covers of James Moore's "Scratch My Back" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Born Blind" are both well done and add to the overall quality of the CD. The CD contains two different versions of Champion's Christmas blues tune, "Blues On Christmas." Although one version would probably have been enough, the two versions show some interesting contrasts in sound and style.
All in all, I enjoyed this CD and would recommend it to anyone who likes the smoother sounds of the blues. His sound is tight and demonstrates an excellent variation from harmonica, vocals and a full back-up band that includes a horn section and organ to more straight ahead rural blues sounds.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.