Darrell Nulisch / Bluesoul (Higher Plane HPR 511CD)
Produced By Bobby Hankins
Darrell Nulisch used be in Anson Funderburgh's Rockets before Sammy Myers joined, and he did harp and vocals. On this solo work, as you may imagine from the title, he is much more towards soul than the Rockets were when he was there. On tracks like (7), I can almost name the songs that became the base of them, it's like, "Oh it's Otis Redding...no, no wait it may be Solomon Burke..." The whole album is in a good mood and quite enjoyable, though it would have been even better if the edges of the sound were rougher. The finishing touch is a little too clean. For more info on this CD, contact Higher Plane Records. They also got a web site.
Snooky Pryor / Mind Your Business (Antone's/Discovery 74708)
Produced By Derek O'Brien
The third album from Antone's released by this master of harp is the first one in 2 and a half years. I would assume that a lot of Japanese fans enjoyed his first tour to Japan in December of 1996. Derek O'Brien credited as the producer is on all tracks on guitar, and also ex-Houserocker drummer Ted Harvey is on some of the tracks. One good quality of Snooky may be the fact that his music has been basically maintained the same for the past 40 years. The comfortable mid-tempo boogie with his trademark tremolo of harmonica. Well, on this album you can expect to hear that, of course, but there are more. A little change in tempo on cuts like (5), (9) sounds pretty fresh. (4) is a ballad which is very touching. Over 70 now, and you can bet that Snooky is still playing better than ever!
Rockie Charles / Born For You (Orleans OR 1911)
Produced By Carlo Ditta
May not be the music that would came up in the main stream but, this album by New Orleans guitarist, Rockie Charles is worth listening to. He has experiences backing up greats such as O.V. Wright. The tracks on this album is in extremely loose mood, but this mood is something you can get addicted to once you get used to it. If this is not the south, what is? It is not specifically New Orleans flavored, but it is recommendable for blues fans who also like to listen to southern soul music.
Pat Ramsey / It's About Time (Rampat Records)
Produced By Billy Gibson and Pat Ramsey
Pat Ramsey is a harp player in Mamphis area, known for his play in Johnny Winter's album "White, Hot & Blue". This disk suggests a very good quality orthodox blues.
Junior Wells / Come On In This House (Telarc CD-83395)
Produced By John Snyder
This new disk by the king of the funky blues, Junior Wells features a great line-up of slide guitarists as guests. The names include Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sonny Landreth, Bob Margolin and John Mooney. The album is very much in downhome acoustic session atmosphere. Maybe this is to match the feeling of the great slide guitarist summit. On track (10) 16 year old Derek Trucks plays up a storm. It sure is a good album to listen to for guitar lovers. I shhould say that Junior himself is in good shape, of course, but it would have been better if this album focused more on this harp. It may have been a little difficult with all these guests all wanting at least a shot of spotlight. As an album, this one has more concept and sophistication and is overall much better than the "Everybody's Gettin' Some" album. On the next one, let's hope that the concept will be focused on himself.
Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan / Double Vision (Flying Fish CD FF 656)
Produced By Tom Ball, Kenny Sultan & Daniel Protheroe
This is the first album by the blues duo of Santa Barbara, CA in three years. They have their own world of blues which is unlike any other traditional stuff like Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, and others. Of course I believe their musical influences can be traced back to them, but obviously Ball & Sultan is making something new out of these traditional elements. I like their bluegrass and country influences in their music, and their Californian sence of humor. Cuts (9), (14) are remake of their previous recordings which are now out of print.
Shunsuke "Shun" Kikuta / Chicago Midnight (Seven Seas KICP-546)
Produced By Shun Kikuta
Shun is a Japanese blues guitarist who lives in Chicago. This is his second album following "They Call Me Shun" released last year. Koko Taylor is featured as a guest vocalist on cuts (3) and (5), the songs that she originally recorded in her earlier days. Shun may not be an Afro-American, but he sure knows how to play the blues. His playing is vital as ever on this disc, and I don't recall having heard a good blues-playing like this in some time. It is surely worth listening to. Too bad that it is released only in Japan.
There is one weakness, however. As Shun doesn't take vocals, his presence as a solo artist is not strong enough despite of his powerful guitar playing. J.W. Williams, the bassist for Shun's group who sings on most of the tracks, is not quite attractive as a singer to make it last through the whole album. This situation is saved however, by the wonderful vocal work done by Koko Taylor. Her vocals are deep, strong, and has a precious qualities that nobody else can take place of. Check it out, you Koko fans! Billy Branch is on these tracks too, and he's sounding fine as well.
Lloyd Jones / Trouble Monkey (AudioQuest AQ-CD1037)
Produced By Joe Harley
What? Robert Cray thinks this guy is great? Okay, let's hear 'em. So I bought this CD reading the sticker on the package.
According to the liner notes, Cray used to go to see Lloyd Jones on every chance he got. I'm not sure how old this guy is, but he doesn't seem to be young. Before releasing this album, he had released 2 albums with his band, The Struggle (With whom ex-Robert Cray Band, Curtis Salgado also played).
Majority of the songs are penned by Jones, and they can be characterized by their funky R&B flavor. (2) is a soul ballad with very impressive vocal harmony work, while jazzy (4) swings lightly in a good mood. I thought the funky (5) was Nevilles Brothers' "Fire On The Bayou" at first! If I were to ask for more, I would say it would be the vocals which is a little week.If Jones' had more soul and power in his voice, this album would be even better. This album is not the kind that takes everyone by surprise, but very fine work that you can listen to relaxed feeling at home.
Produced By Snooks Eaglin
A CD released exclusively in Japan that covers the New Orleans guitar master's performances in his first tour to Japan in Dec. of 95.
He played total of 4 nights at the this Park Tower Fest in Tokyo, and the recordings were made on the latter 2 days. In these 2 days, he played total of 24 songs, and 17 of them are on this CD. What one of the staff at P-Vine said was that it was so hard to drop out any of the songs as they were all good, and it ended up this way. Yes, I think it is quite understandable. I went to see these shows and they were outstanding. As of today, this CD is the only full-length live album for Snooks.
(Now this album is also available as a U.S. release on Black Top entitled "Live
In Japan." But there are less songs on it.)
Produced By Hammond Scott
Ex-Roomful Of Blues Pianist, Al Copley's second release on Black Top is a collaboration with Hal Singer, a veteran tenor saxophone player who used to play for the Jay McShann Orchestra. This disk also features two special guests. One is Duke Robillard who was with Al when he was in Roomful Of Blues, and the other is the one and only New Orleans guitarist Snooks Eaglin. In short, this album really swings! You can feel the swing from the first tune on this CD (which is the boogie woogie version of the classic Mack The Knife) till the very end. On cuts like (2), bluesy sax solos by Hal really are great. On cut (5), Al is featured solo on piano. Check out the guitar work of Snooks on (4), too.