Listening to "Movin' On" it's hard to believe that Eddie Kirkland has been recording for over 50 years. Kirkland is fairly unique in that he is one of the few Jamaican born Bluesmen. When you add in that he has recorded with both John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding, and has played guitar whilst standing on his head, then you know that Kirkland must be something special.
"Movin' On" offers a perfect illustration of Kirkland's unique fusion of Blues and Soul. The opener "Love Me"--which offers similar sentiments to "Rock Me Baby"-- has Kirkland pitching right in from the off with a truly wonderful guitar tone which seems almost Middle Eastern in origin. Kirkland certainly believes in putting his guitar through its paces, using up to a dozen different tunings in order to attain the perfect sound and feel.
On the second track ("Rainbow") the emphasis switches to focus on Kirkland's strengths as a singer. Then, just as you are left wondering whether there is any limit to his talents, up he jumps with "Honey Bee" to show off his own style of harp. It's all topped off by a pinch of Nutmeg Horns--including producer Bruce Feiner--to create a sound that is guaranteed to make you feel good.
All of the tracks are Kirkland originals except the title track, which was written by Feiner. The fact that all of it is so strikingly original would be enough in and of itself, but Kirkland is not content to just stand still: every single track offers something different. Just listen to the transition between "Don't Monkey Around With Me" and "Why Can't I Be Free" and you will get some idea of what I am talking about. The former pitches Kirkland into the place where Blues meets Funk--without ever sounding like a Bobby Rush imitator--whilst the latter is an uptempo preaching style incantation. Fortunately Kirkland gives you a chance for a well-earned breather on the ensuing "Swanee River", before the reggae influenced "American Woman" closes things out in a grand style.
From start to finish, "Movin' On" is one helluva CD. Eddie Kirkland may be seventy something, but this is an album of highly original Blues in every sense of the word. Even though 1999 is turning out to be a great year for the Blues, with several highly acclaimed albums being released, Eddie Kirkland's "Movin' On" comfortably ranks as one of the very best Blues albums of this year, or indeed of any year.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Gordon Baxter , and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.