My first thought, looking at the lineup and the concept was not totally positive. Just how many young artists have I heard doing slavish copies of old Blues songs without a whit of originality? But then I thought of the individuals concerned – Giles Robson (one of the most exciting Blues harmonica players around), Joe Louis Walker (a strong voice and excellent guitarist) and Bruce Katz (a terrific talent on piano) and of the fact that these numbers were not the stock numbers you hear from every bar Blues outfit trying to get a cold room on its feet and I gave it a try. Good call!
The album consists of 12 tracks, all obscure Blues classics bar one and written by the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Blind Willie McTell, Smiley Lewis and other masters. All acoustic, recorded ‘live’ in the studio during blizzards in Woodstock New York and sounding virtually like an extended jam session between three players who love each other’s talents and the Blues they grew up with.
The sheer energy that leaps out of the speakers is positively electrifying. The three musicians have talent to spare but the interplay is so coherent and so vibrant that their individual talents are hardly the point.
Some of the numbers are familiar; slow Blues like ‘Murderer’s Home’ (Blind Willie McTell) is chilling and impassioned, Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Hell Ain’t But A Mile And A Quarter’ has a superb jazzy piano line and Big Maceo’s ‘Chicago Breakdown’ features Katz piano on a sweet rag I didn’t want to end.
Smiley Lewis’ ‘Real Gone Lover’ is one of the best tracks as all three seem to gel in a particular groove.
All told, this is a heck of an album. Warm and filled with sheer ability – a superb example of what can be done with the Blues classics.