Early Times & The High Rollers are hanging out on The Corner (VizzTone Label Group) with Popa Chubby for one track (“She’s About To Lose Her Mind”) while settin’ the woods on fire for nine more blistering blues-rock gems. Besides being a popular Sirius/XM disc jockey on the Bluesville channel, Early plays guitar, keyboards and percussion while singing up a storm and leading the High Rollers (drums/bass/back-up vocals/keybs/guitar/percussion) through his own songs mostly about women. It’s a thrill ride of funky proportions, the kind of set you’ll go back to over and over again.
The New World Blues (Whiskey Bayou Records), by Alastair Greene, is a Louisiana-drenched gumbo of swamp rock, blues-rock and classic-rock, clearly influenced by Peter Green and Gary Moore. Alastair has led his band for 20 years while also being the lead guitarist of the Alan Parsons Project for eight years (performing the same function in Starship featuring Mickey Thomas). His is a complex brew. As produced by New Orleans stalwart Tab Benoit (who also sings and plays drums here), the 11 stand-out tracks—highlights all—resonates with Cream and ZZ Top flourishes. Known as a “guitarist’s guitarist,” Alastair is the kind of singer/songwriter that digs deep into the crevices of the soul.
New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers Volume #2 is even better than the first one. When you get a super-group of Mississippi Blues Masters like these huddled in a circle trading licks, trading vocals, in a relaxed informal way once off the road, magic happens. When Memphis pianist/producer Jim Dickinson passed away in 2009, these 2007 sessions were boxed and kept in a warehouse untouched for 12 years. Only when Stony Plain Records founder Holger Petersen discovered them in 2019 to release the first volume, have they seen the light of day.
The Players: Charlie Musselwhite is an American Harmonica Treasure. He’s the guy who inspired Dan Aykroyd’s Elwood Blues character in The Blues Brothers. Alvin Youngblood Hart left California to hang out at Big Mama’s in Mississippi where he became one of the most pre-eminent country-blues practitioners in the world. Jimbo Mathus is a larger-than-life Deep South character who lives the blues. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson are Jim’s sons and mates in The North Mississippi Allstars. Consider them the stars of this project.
The Material: From the opening salvo of The Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About A Mover” to “Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me” by Charles Mingus and “Messing With The Kid” by Junior Wells, the inherent joy and righteousness of these beloved songs as performed by this crew shines. Mixed in with originals and other sweet covers like Jimmy Reed’s “Can’t Stand To See You Go,” Earl Hooker’s “Blue Guitar” and the showstopping blockbuster closing of “Blues Is A Mighty Bad Feeling” which dates all the way back to the 1930 original by The Mississippi Shieks, this one may not be lodged from being #1 of 2021’s Best Blues Albums. It’s only April but we’ll see.