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CD Review
Hubert Sumlin
"I Know You"
Analogue Productions/AcousTech-APO 2004
by Dave "Doc" Piltz
Hubert Sumlin was the first Chicago bluesman that I ever had the chance to sit down with and talk to about the blues. He was a gracious and cordial as anyone I have ever met and he made me feel like we had been friends for years, eventhough we had just met. His stories about Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters fascinated me, as did just about everything else he chose to discuss that day. I have seen him several times since that first meeting and have continued to enjoy his stories and his music.

I Know You is Sumlin's second new recording in 1998, released one month after his Blue Planet CD entitled Wake Up Call. Prior this year it has been four years since Evidence released My Guitar and Me and eight years since Passport released Healing Feeling.

I think that I Know You is one of Sumlin's best ever as a solo artist. Everything about this CD displays the emotion and feeling of Chicago blues and calls upon the spirits of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters to give it the power of their music. Ten of the twelve songs on the CD are Sumlin originals. The other two songs, were penned by Chester Burnett (a.k.a., Howlin' Wolf). This is only appropriate since Sumlin spent many years with the Wolf, adding his fiery guitar work to many of his most famous compositions and recordings for Chess Records.

The backing band for I Know You provides Sumlin with excellent support from Sam Lay (drums), Carey Bell (harmonica), Jimmy D. Lane (guitar), Freddie Crawford (bass) and David Krull (piano/organ). Jimmy D. Lane is Jimmy Rodgers son and the Crawford/Krull combo were members of Rodger's rhythm section. This stellar cast really makes Sumlin and this CD click on all cylinders. Sumlin's guitar is as good on this CD as I have heard in recent years and every song is a joy to listen to.

"Howlin' For My Darling" and "How Many More Years" are the two Howlin' Wolf songs on the CD and both has everything that a Howlin' Wolf fan could want, except for The Wolf's vocal growl. "Smokestack" sounds alot like another Howlin' Wolf original, "Smokestack Lightnin,'" but the song is credited to Sumlin because of the new lyrics.

The opening song, "I'm Coming Home" features some complimentary guitar by Sumlin and piano from David Krull. "That's Why I'm Gonna Leave You," is a slow blues that features lead guitar by Sumlin and Jimmy D. Lane with Krull moving to the organ. Sumlin introduces "Don't Judge A Book By The Cover" as the first song he recorded, providing an interesting guitar and vocals only version for the CD. Except for minimal guitar support by Jimmy D. Lane, "I'm Not Your Clown" is a duet by Sumlin and Carey Bell. This song features excellent harmonica by Bell with Sumlin on lead guitar and vocals. "You My Best" is another Sumlin solo tune that he introduces with a story about how he got into the blues. The final song on the CD is "Good Bye," a fitting end that again involves all of the band members.

Given the quality of the music on this CD, one can only hope that Sumlin stays on the scene a while longer to grace us with more songs and stories that bring new life to the blues.

This review is copyright 1998 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, all rights reserved.

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