Time once again for me to select six songs from the hottest albums and artists at blues radio from this week's Blues Power Rankings. This week we have songs from JW-Jones, Charlie Musselwhite, Albert Castiglia, Steve Miller Band, Jimmie Vaughan, and Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King.
JW-Jones - "Howlin' With Hubert" (feat. Hubert Sumlin): We'll never be graced by another voice or presence like the inimitable Chester Burnett, better known as Howlin' Wolf. The grit, force, and terror in his voice was unique and such a focal point of his music it's easy to miss another key ingredient that made his music special: the guitar work of Hubert Sumlin.
Sumlin is still with us and bluesman JW-Jones teamed with the legend on his Memphis Midnight Sun record for a couple of tracks. This instrumental finds the two trading licks. Some guitar matchups like this turn into competitions but not this pair. Each gives the other room and makes this a song rather than two guitarists cutting heads. Sumlin says of his young protege, "JW's got it down! So much soul, and nice material. You can't beat it. I am telling the truth." Believe the man.
Charlie Musselwhite - "Rambler's Blues:" The lead track from The Well is one of the best on the record, pushing Musselwhite's signature harp out front over a thick backing guitar track that has just a little crunch and just a little ring to it. Musselwhite has perfected a blend of blues that combines Chicago and Memphis and this is a textbook example. His vocal is easy and relaxed, delivered with just a little drawl and just a fraction behind the beat. Nothing is rushed. Nothing is rocked. This is Chicago blues with stately Southern charm.
Albert Castiglia - "Gettin' By:" The intro and repeated riff of this song is a cousin to The Black Crowes' "Twice As Hard" as Castiglia plays around with a Southern rock approach to a slow blues. The vocal melody sounds nothing like the Crowes tune which makes for for fun listening as a fan of that song. Similar chords and riff pattern, yes, but two very different songs. They came to the fork and the road and they took it, as Yogi Berra might say. The guitar solos are a little less intense on this track than elsewhere on the album, which means it fits very well with the fabric of the song.