Thursday, November 25, 2010
Artist: Chris James, Patrick Rynn
Title: Gonna Boogie Anyway
When guitarist Chris James and bass player Patrick Rynn collaborated as the ‘C – Notes’ behind vocalist and harmonica player Rob Stone, it was my “pure blues” album of the year. With the release of their new album, ‘Gonna Boogie Anyway’ James and Rynn are back with a gritty honest electric Chicago blues sound. Out on the Chicago based Earwig Records this album includes a stellar line-up of accomplices including; David Maxwell (piano), Sam Lay (drums), and Henry Gray (piano). Blues harmonica player and noted radio host Bob Corritore guests on the tracks, ‘H.M. Stomp’ (instrumental) and the Bo Diddley cover, ‘Little Girl.’
An interesting aspect to this album is a study in how drums and drumming styles affect the sound of a band. As a guitar and bass (vocal) duo, James and Rynn often have to rely on guest drummers. In addition to Sam Lay, other drummers on the disc include; Willie Hayes and Eddie Kobeck. There are three ‘drumless’ tracks on the album; which adds to a listeners learning experience; ‘You Can’t Trust Nobody,’ ‘Headed Out West,’ and ‘Black Spider Blues.’ Admittedly, either the music “moves You” or it doesn’t; however, as we listen, we also learn.
This is a straight forward electric pure blues record; no flashy bells and whistles.
Purists will love this album for its honesty, historical root and direct approach. “Modern blues” listeners may initially find this album too traditional although repeated listening will push open the door to a greater appreciation that often, ‘simpler is better.’ As a radio host, I found, ‘Dearest Darling,’ a second Bo Diddley cover to be my focus track. All listeners should focus in on the pure sounding instruments as they juxtapose to James’ vocals. In addition to the great albums from days gone by, this is a very good foundation album of modern purist blues that fans can build a library upon.
Artist: Piano Red
Title: The Lost Atlanta Tapes
Long before Wilko Johnson (John Wilkinson) commandeered the name for his noted English pub rock band, Piano Red was playing barrel house blues and using the moniker ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ Piano Red successfully cut sides for RCA Victor including hits such as ‘Red’s Boogie,’ ‘Just Right Bounce’ and ‘Laying the Boogie.’ His songs have been covered by some of rock n’ rolls greats including; Little Richard, re-titled as ‘She Knows How to Rock’; Carl Perkins, ‘The Wrong Yo-Yo’; and the Beatles, ‘Mister Moonlight.’ While Piano Red (a/k/a Willie Perryman) has earned his place in music history – he is not a household name for most listeners. Perryman died of cancer in 1985.
This album, ‘The Lost Atlanta Tapes’ were recorded in 1984, shortly before Red’s death. With 18 songs in all, this album is a gentile rollick through a collection of standards and originals including; ‘That’s My Desire,’ ‘C.C. Rider,’ ‘Baby Please Don’t Go,’ and ‘Corinna, Corinna.’ This is not a raucous affair as the 73 year old meanders and talks through a set of music to an appreciative audience. The ‘Lost Atlanta Tapes’ is a highly niched release which will evade most blues listeners. Yes, Piano Red deserves our respect for his contribution to the lexicon of modern blues and rock music; however, other than for its historical perspective, this is an album best left to true aficionados and serious collectors. It is not a bad record per se’ – it is simply a peripheral recording few modern blues listeners will fully enjoy.