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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blues Historian Review: Shirley Johnson, Blues Attack, and Various Artists: It Ain't over

Delmark records has a couple of great releases out now that all blues lovers need to grab. The first is Shirley Johnson and Blues Attack. Blues Attack, is a great disc that follows the spirit of Chicago blues, but also slips in some nice soul music for variety. Johnson is a great vocalists, and is just one of many great unsung blues performers that are keeping the blues alive and well. The band keeps a great grove throughout the disc. They also keep that rough and tumble live spirit going as well. Many times a studio recording can sound stiff and lack life, but Johnson's band does a great job of keeping it real. Luke Pytel does a great job on lead guitar. He is not super showy, but has great tone. I take tone over fast every time. If there is one problem with the disc, it is the cover tunes, Unchain My Heart, and 634-5789. Personally I like those songs, and play them myself, but they are best played for an audience. there is no doubt in my mind that when Shirley and the band start up those two songs that the dance floor fills up and everyone, band included has a great time. However, it is very hard to translate that kind of live energy on disc. Yet, don't let that keep you from buying this disk. The rest of the CD makes up for it with some great music from the heart.

Various artists: It Ain't Over.

Just when you thought the 55th anniversary of Delmark records was over, here comes two more presents for all of their fans. On March 7th 2008, at Buddy Guy's Legends they had a 55th anniversary party for Delmark. Somebody was pretty smart and had not only the audio recorder going, but the video camera as well! All I can say is wow from Zora Young's Til The Fat Lady Sings, to Tail Dragger's My Woman Is Gone, is 11 great live blues recordings one after another. Joining Zora Young, and Tail Dragger, is legend Jimmy Johnson, Aaron Moore, the late Little Arthur Duncan, the amazing Lurrie Bell, blues and soul singer Shirley Johnson, and the great Chicago Bluesman Eddie Shaw. However, if listening to great music is not enough, then check out the DVD of the show. Delmark continues their movement towards DVD, with this new release. I unfortunately did not get a chance to see the DVD since I just got the CD, but I am certain from the clip below, and from past DVD's that I have received from Delmark that this is going to be a great show. Furthermore anything that has one of the last performances of the much loved Chicago blues icon Little Arthur Duncan is worth the price of the DVD all by itself.

The nice thing about Delmark releases (or at least the ones I have listened to in the last 2 years) is that they always keep that live spirit in their cds. Too many times a recording can sound canned, and boring, but Delmark does a great job of keeping it loose, and keepin dem blues alive.

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