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BPR 6-Pack: Magic Slim, Peter Parcek 3, Guitar Shorty, Mississippi Heat, Moreland & Arbuckle, Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

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Back by popular demand, it’s the Blues Power Rankings 6-Pack; a six-pack of songs from the albums on this week’s Blues Power Rankings selected for you to sample. Once again, the links below will take you directly to Amazon where you can download the song on the spot for $1.  I've taken all the guesswork out of the equation.  What could be easier?

We have a new #1 on the BPR chart this week and we begin our six-pack sampler there:

  1. Magic Slim & The Teardrops – "Part-Time Love:" 72-year old Magic Slim has been playing the blues for more than 50 years and he doesn’t sound like he’s even close to reaching the bottom of his well. "Part-Time Love" opens with a precision, rhythmic stutter that would make Rush and Yes proud before giving way to a slinky groove the late Rick James would have surely loved. It doesn’t matter what Slim and his Teardrops play, it always comes back blues. Raising The Bar is #1 on this week’s Blues Power Rankings and now you know why.
  2. Peter Parcek 3 – "The Mathematics Of Love:" Science and math are often depicted as being wholly apart from and incompatible with love and emotion, but Peter Parcek uses the language of math to describe his broken heart. Of course the real measure of his heartbreak comes not from his words but from his passionate singing and the impassioned, dramatic guitar work. Parcek may not be treading traditional territory on this track but he blends acoustic and electric slide guitar work to create some deep blues.
  3. Guitar Shorty – "Please Mr. President:" Guitar Shorty has written the theme song for the precarious times in which we live. The first song from Bare Knuckles pleads "Please Mr. President, lay some stimulus on me." The man pleading for help "used to have a good job, working 40 hard hours a week" but has now been laid off and is trying to keep his family fed. If the fire in Shorty’s voice doesn’t drive home the desperation, the searing lead guitar does.
  4. Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith – "Grown Up To Be A Man:" This is pure Chicago blues from two men who have forgotten more about the idiom than most players on the circuit today know combined. This is a tune so good it's hard to believe this is its first recording and not the hundredth. Smith's vocals are warm and inviting, the character and blusiness coming not from grit or strain but from experience and age. What Perkins has lost in power and agility he makes up for with experience, laying down an elegant bridge when Smith throws it his way.
  5. Moreland & Arbuckle – "18 Counties:" The best song from Moreland & Arbuckle’s latest album Flood, an album that has been a mainstay at radio and retail since its February release. This is the moment where everything clicks; the vocals, lyrics, rhythms, and lead work from both Moreland and Arbuckle mesh together and everything lands where it should. There is a blend of desperation, danger, and despair all packed neatly into four spooky minutes.
  6. Mississippi Heat (feat. John Primer) – “I Got Some News Today:” One of my favorite discoveries during my 2010 Blues Music Award coverage was the great John Primer. In addition to being onetime sideman to Muddy Waters, Primer is a great guitarist, songwriter, and singer in his own right. Collaborating with Pierre Lacocque’s loose collaborative outfit Mississippi Heat, Primer contributes this original song that allows his stinging guitar leads to do battle with Lacqocque’s sweet harmonica lines culminating in a blues holy war that will make you feel good all over.
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