Welcome to the first Blues Power Rankings 6 Pack! To borrow from former radio colleague of mine, you know what the news is. This is my news and you are welcome to it. Each week the Blues Power Rankings lets you know which albums are seeing the most spins at blues radio stations — terrestrial and online — from around the world. Being the avid blues fan and junior ranger blues student that I am, I've heard most of the albums we see each week; I like most of them and love some of them.
Each week after the Blues Power Rankings are published, I'm going to grab six songs from the albums on the list and tell you a bit about them and send you to where you can check them out yourself on the cheap. Our friends at Amazon (and other digital retailers) sell MP3s legally for $1 (and sometimes even less). Each title is linked to take you directly to Amazon's MP3 store for that specific song, saving you the trouble of having to search and hunt for them yourselves. I've done everything but pay for these for you, and that's not going to happen so spend $6 and hear what you've been missing:
- Meet Me In New Mexico: I have not yet had the opportunity to review this album in full but I bought it because it was doing so well on the BPR and I felt I needed to find out why. Let me tell you something, kids: very good call on my part. My thanks to the blues DJs and listeners around the world who put this on my radar.
Osbourne uses elements of the blues idiom to tell his story but this is not traditional blues music; this is traditional American music and it is wonderfully executed. He is a great story and has an ear for melody that sets him apart in an idiom that prizes melody a little less than other musical tools. This song makes me singalong. I think you will, too.
- Peter Karp / Sue Foley: Rules Of Engagement: I've written a lot about Peter Karp over the years and have reviewed this album already (and interviewed he and Foley about it) so allow me to pimp my wares and send you that direction for an in-depth view of the record. For those of you with short attention spans, I selected this song because this is one of the great tracks that gives you some interplay between Sue and Peter. Some songs on this duet record emphasize one artist or the other — and those are some great, great tunes — but "Rules of Engagement" gives you a hint of both.
- Janiva Magness: Save Me: I'm not going to recycle my Janiva rants. I'm not quite as enamored of her as many of my contemporary blues fans, critics, and supporters. She is a talent, though, and there are some songs on this new record The Devil Is An Angel, Too I quite like. This ballad is one of them. Magness' vocal is warm, tender, and vulnerable yet there is an undercurrent of strength. Try this one out.
- Nick Moss: Born Leader: So have I written about Nick Moss at all here at Blogcritics? Nick Moss & The Flip Tops are about the best Chicago blues band on the circuit these days and one of those bands I'd drive a hell of a long way to see. Privileged finds Moss exploring music outside his traditional Chicago sound and the results are fantastic. This is the first song on the new record and it is fierce and intense. This one is going to get you fired up.
- Kilborn Alley Blues Band" Better Off Now: I chose this one because I know a secret about it. You don't need to know the secret to appreciate it and I'm not at liberty to tell it so you're going to have to trust me. Singer Andrew Duncanson has taken his craft to a new level on each of KABB's three releases for Blue Bella Records. This is one of the best examples of his growth and and ability on an extraordinary, vital record.
- Bettye LaVette: Love Reign O'er Me: Dave Grohl has said this performance will bring you to tears and while it didn't do that for me, it did move me. Bettye LaVette is a powerhouse singer who has been in the business for a long time. The power and command of her voice are forces no mere mortal can withstand. You cannot download this track fast enough.
There you go – skip that crappy fast food burger or those ridiculous wraps and get something that will stick with you without hurting the waistline or your self-respect.