Every single time the legendary guitarist/producer/composer Duke Robillard puts out an album is a reason to rejoice. On his latest, They Called It Rhythm & Blues (Stony Plain Records), by The Duke Robillard Band, he shares the spotlight—as he always does—with a glittering array of blues heavyweights to ultimately produce the blues party of the year! Duke’s a historian, scholar, curator and expert on electric and acoustic blues as well as jazz, jump, swing, balladry and standards. He’s an archeologist, digging up rare artifacts to bring them thrillingly to life. In a career of over 50 years, he never fails to please.
Longtime Duke vocalist Chris Cote knocks it out of the ballpark on six tracks. John Hammond, Jr. wails on “Homeless Blues.” Red Hot Mama Sue Foley is her usual sultry sexy self on Mickey & Sylvia’s 1965 “No Good Lover.” Fab T-Bird Kim Wilson blows some mighty blues harp on two tracks. Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson struts her considerable stuff on another two, including the 1924 blues standard “Trouble In Mind.” Tough to pick a highlight but Sugar Ray Norcia’s treatment of Tampa Red’s 1940 “Rambler Blues” is so perfecto, you’ll want to play it over and over again.
The two latest volumes of Southern Bred: Tennessee & Arkansas R&B Rockers (Ireland’s Koko Mojo Record Stack) are filled to the brim with 56 good house-rockin’ tracks fit to drive you (and your neighbors) nuts. Volume #21 features jump blues, pre-’63 rock’n’roll, doo-wop and wild, uninhibited rhythm’n’blues, oftentimes by one-hit wonders lost to the dustbin of time. Until now. Still, the stars shine: Jimmy Witherspoon, Little Willie John, Dee Clark and his outrageous “Kangaroo Hop,” Big Maybelle, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Jay McShann, Washboard Sam and Louie Jordan may be the most known but it’s the likes of Red Love and his irresistible “Drop Top,” Little Charles & The Daffodils, Little Al in his “Easy Ridin’ Buggy” and so many more.
Volume #22 has gospel, blues-rock, guitar-workouts, funky oldies and in-your-face novelties like “Race Horse” by Tiny Davis and “That Chick’s Too Young To Fry” by Louie Jordan and His Tympani Five. The late great Johnny Ace shows up asking that musical question “How Can You Be So Mean” while Bobby Blue Bland, Memphis Slim, Johnny Shines, Shy Guy Douglas, The Hucklebuckers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (who was the first real guitar hero) and Sonny Boy Williamson all create magic moments.
With a cast of 15, Madeleine (Van der Linden Recordings), by Pierre Lacocque’s Mississippi Heat, their 13th album in 30 years, brings these stunning 10 Pierre originals (+2) to vibrant life. He blows a mean blues-harp throughout and highlights abound. There’s never a shortage of left-turns into zydeco, worldbeat, Latin and jazz but the base is always gutsy Chicago Blues. Pierre, born in Israel of Belgium parents, has traveled the world, first settling in Canada, before emigrating to The Windy City. Guests include in-demand cats like Beedy-Eyes Smith and Hambone Cameron. Singer Inetta Visor steals the show as does Johnny Iguana from the Junior Wells band. This one’s a keeper!