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Blues Power Rankings: Pinetop & Willie, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Buddy Guy & More

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It’s a special, expanded edition of our weekly Blues Power Rankings because this week in addition to a look at the top sellers and hottest plays at radio, we also learned which blues records were nominated for Grammy awards.

There are two categories recognized by the Grammys: Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Contemporary Blues Album and five albums are nominated in each.  Here are the 10 blues records nominated for Grammy consideration:

Best Traditional Blues Album

  • James Cotton – Giant
  • Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues
  • Charlie Musselwhite – The Well
  • Pinetop Perkins & Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith – Joined At The Hip
  • Jimmie Vaughan – Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites

Best Contemporary Blues Album

  • Solomon Burke – Nothing’s Impossible
  • Dr. John And The Lower 911 – Tribal
  • Buddy Guy – Living Proof
  • Bettye LaVette – Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Live! In Chicago

I begin with the obvious and howl in protest at Cyndi Lauper’s nomination.  Yes, she has made a blues record.  Yes she brought in many top blues talents to play on this record, including Jonny Lang and Blues Hall of Famer (and fellow nominee) Charlie Musselwhite.  I haven’t listened to her record and some of you will take exception to me criticizing a nomination when I haven’t heard the record because it might actually be good and deserving.  I’m reminded of a line from Wayne’s World, something about monkeys flying out of my butt.  There’s no way anyone will convince me Lauper’s set is more deserving in the traditional blues category than a dozen other records I could list from the same eligibility period. 

In addition to Lauper, Jimmie Vaughan, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, and Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith are nominated.  I own all four of those records and have reviewed three of them.  Of that quartet, I’m most partial to Musselwhite’s record but I like the other three. 

There are some great records in the contemporary category, as well.  I own three of the five and would very much like to hear Solomon Burke and Dr. John’s records.  Having not yet heard them, I lean strongly in the direction of Bettye LaVette’s wonderful Interpretations record.  Buddy’s album is excellent and I dug Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s live set well enough, especially the guest spots from Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sumlin.

Let’s segue now to the Roots Music Report radio chart where our Top 5 this week is identical to last week.  Our buddy Todd Sharpville makes a nice debut this week at #21.  His new double album Porchlight is a good one and definitely one to watch.  Here’s the full rundown:

  1. Buddy Guy – Living Proof
  2. Eden Brent – Ain’t Got No Troubles
  3. James Cotton – Giant
  4. Robin Rogers – Back In The Fire
  5. Charlie Musselwhite – The Well
  6. Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys – Shake Your Boogie
  7. Kenny Neal – Hooked On Your Love
  8. Whiteboy James & The Blues Express – Last Time Was The Last Time
  9. Davis Coen – Jukebox Classic
  10. Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters – Spread The Love
  11. Eric Clapton – Clapton
  12. Various Artist – Louisiana Swamp Stomp
  13. Albert Castiglia – Keepin On
  14. Shawn Camp – 1994
  15. Jp Blues – I Will Not Go Quietly
  16. Tas Cru – Jus’ Desserts
  17. Lynwood Slim & The Igor Prado Band – Brazilian Kicks
  18. Mitch Kashmar & The Pontiax – 100 Miles To Go
  19. Lucky Peterson – You Can Always Turn Around
  20. Dave Specter – Spectified
  21. Todd Sharpville – Porchlight
  22. Ray Charles – Rare Genius – The Undiscovered Masters
  23. Hosea Hargrove – Tex Golden Nugget
  24. Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings – That’s The Way You Do
  25. Ron Tanski – Dragged You Down

Looking finally at the Billboard Blues chart, we see Buddy Guy continuing his lock on #1 with the only noticeable change from last week being the return of Steve Miller Band to the Top 10.

Billboard Blues Albums | Week of December 11, 2010

  1. Buddy Guy – Living Proof
  2. Etta James – Icon: Etta James
  3. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Live! In Chicago
  4. Joe Bonamassa – Live From The Royal Albert Hall
  5. Cyndi Lauper – Memphis Blues
  6. Joe Bonamassa – Black Rock
  7. Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble – Playlist: The Very Best Of Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
  8. Bettye LaVette – Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
  9. The Steve Miller Band – Bingo!
  10. The Derek Trucks Band – Roadsongs
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About Josh Hathaway

  • Alex

    Monkeys may not fly out of your butt, but you are talking out of it. How can you protest if you haven’t even heard the album?That’s ridiculous. Rolling Stone gave Memphis Blues 3 and a half stars. Give it a listen, and I’m sure you’ll agree that Ms Lauper deserves the nomination, and IMO deserves to win the grammy.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Well if Rolling Stone likes it, I’m sure it’s good because their track record has been so good of late.

    I’ve heard Cyndi sing. A blues record? I’m not buying it and I’ve heard so many great records throughout the year that deserve attention in that category I just can’t get behind this.

  • Ken

    Cyndi Lauper was not #1 On Billboard Blues chart for 10 weeks in a row for nothing! Her album is fantastic and her voice is incredible!! You don’t just get The Great BB King to perform on any old album. GO Cyndi!! You deserve that Grammy.

  • zingzing

    actually, b.b.’s been a bit of a musical whore as of late, slapping his name on the credits of 10 or 20 albums a year. maybe he enjoys working with other people. maybe he’s out for a buck.

    somehow, cyndi lauper’s voice doesn’t seem like it would translate well to the blues. but i haven’t heard it. and it’s certainly not something i’d search out. “cyndi lauper” and “blues album” should be mutually exclusive terms, but that’s not the world we live in anymore. goodbye, old world.

  • El Bicho

    Congrats to her that the album is doing well, but I’ve heard that duet with B.B. and it is not good

  • Andy

    I am sorry but to pigeonhole a singer to a particular genre is sad. I have listened to Lauper’s album and it is great. Obviously, you aren’t familiar with Lauper’s corpus of work aside from ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. Before becoming a solo artist, she was even in a rockabilly band, covered Joplin songs and trained with vocal therapist (when she lost her voice back in the 70s). Listen to her takes in youtube….then conclude. Lower down your testosterone levels dude.

  • Andy

    Here is the link to the ‘making of’ Memphis Blues of Lauper. She did say it’s the basis of all her work and was the genre that taught her how to sing.

  • zingzing

    belinda carlisle played drums for the germs. not all pasts lead up to glorious futures.

  • Oh Pooh!

    Here in lies the problem. A critic who will give Cyndi’s album 2 stars or less because: 1. Never heard the record and cannot imagine She Bop and Blues in the same sentence. 2. Rely on 30 second snippet from iTunes to formally come to a conclusion that the album is all pooh. The good thing about the album (and smart one too) She did not sugar coat the sound. It was recorded live, tossed around within the musicians and put on tape to record the album; no studio magic filtration. She did a great job and deserves the nomination; she at least tried. The best track is the duet with Ann Peebles. If anything that track should have been nominated. Anyway, if you’re going to hate it, listen to it first and then hate it. Don’t hate it based on an image/sound from 25+ years ago.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    So I have to be a sexist to not want to hear Lauper? That’s absurd. I guess it’s just not okay to say a person has heard enough by an artist over the years to not be interested in hearing more from them or to be disappointed when an artist you don’t particularly care for overshadows artists you like more.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Josh, don’t you know the only way to have an opinion about anything is to have experienced everything?

    :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Beautifully phrased, Jordan. It reminds me of another favorite of yesteryear, this time Beavis & Butt-head. “I may not have been born in a barn but I know how to choke a chicken.”

  • Rita

    It’s that time of year where the music magazines start to list their best / top albums of 2010. Mojo Magazine, have placed Cyndi Lauper’s Memphis Blues at #9 on their Top 10 Blues Albums 2010.

  • Octavio

    How can this blog review something without listening first? that’s not professional at all. Cyndi Lauper has been singing since 30 years ago. Dont’r prejudge, give a listen to Memphis Blues and then write if you wanna have any credibility.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    I didn’t review it or claim to. The credibility comes in the form of being honest about that fact and talking about the records I did listen to. Yes, obviously someone liked it. It’s nominated for a Grammy. I don’t have to follow suit.

  • John

    Year-End top-selling blues albums, ranked by sales data as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.
    Cyndi Lauper’s Memphis Blues has become the best selling Blues Album of 2010.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Yep, and congratulations to her. Commercial success is not insignificant but it’s not equivalent to artistic merit. Kudos to Lauper for a commercially successful album and a Grammy nomination. I’m not buying the record and she wouldn’t have been one of my nominees.

  • Octavio

    Cyndi Lauper, Dave Swiff and Jools Holland performing “Just Your Fool” (from Grammy nominee and #1 for 13 weeks on the Billboard Blues Albums chart, Memphis Blues)

  • Oh Pooh!

    How Funny. When I saw that about Cyndi having the top Blues Album of 2010, the first person I thought of was… You, Josh. I thought, he must be howling even more. So, to add more howling, She is also listed as #2 of Blues Artists for 2010; ranked by Billboard Magazine. I know it seems Odd she’s in that mix; again at least she tried something different and it was a suprise hit. I’m just glad Domestic Sony is no longer part of the picture and can’t take credit.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Billboard Magazine ranks things based on sales and radio airplay. Yes, she’s sold a lot of these records. Yes. she’s probably gotten more radio airplay relative to other independent blues acts. Again, that’s not the same as being good. I’ve got no real axe to grind against her. I’ve listened to a lot of blues records this year. It’s virtually impossible for one person to hear them all. In light of the numerous records I’ve heard in the genre released in 2010, I’d have come up with a great slate of nominees and wouldn’t feel the least bit bad about excluding her.