Here are six songs from the hottest albums at blues radio from this past week that you should absolutely take the time to check out:
Charlie Musselwhite – “The Well:” The well hasn’t run dry for Blues Hall of Famer Charlie Musselwhite. On this, the title track for his new album, he digs deep and gives a powerful testimony of events that led him to confront his battle with alcohol. He, like the rest of the nation, was deeply affected by the story of baby Jessica McClure who was trapped in a well for three days. Musselwhite says he pledged not to drink until she was rescued as a prayer for her safety. That three-day prayer led him to 22 years of sobriety. What makes this song so powerful is the honesty in the lyrics but the understated delivery and music.
Chris James & Patrick Rynn – “Dearest Darling:” I’m not as well versed in my Bo Diddley history as I should be. I’ve long admired John Lee Hooker for his unique sense of rhythm and timing and the same is true of what Diddley I know. James and Rynn are big fans and you can hear it in how well they adapt this nugget from his catalog. They create a warm, retro sound and replicate that classic groove.
Bob Corritore (feat. Robert Lockwood Jr.) – “That’s Alright:” This is one of my favorite Jimmy Rogers’ tunes ever! Jimmy’s version will always be my favorite – there’s also a great version with Jimmy and Muddy Waters on Waters’ I’m Ready CD – but Robert Lockwood Jr. and Bob Corritore turn in a more than respectable performance. It’s no surprise, really- ask great performers to play a great song and you have to like your odds. The great Henry Gray is also along on piano, adding to the fantastic collection of talent. You can hear the smiles in this loose, free-flowing arrangement.
Steve Miller Band (feat. Joe Satriani) – “Rock Me Baby:” I don’t want to hear it, blues purists! I like this song and I’m not afraid to admit it. Steve Miller and guest guitarist Joe Satriani certainly play more to the “rock” in the title but it’s okay to like it all the same because there’s a barroom blues shuffle beneath the seizure-inducing licks and sheer volume. Satriani has occasionally worked blues elements into his solo work but it’s not something he focuses on. It’s fun to hear him play something more in that vein as he does here.
Albert Castiglia – “Mojo 305:” Albert Castiglia’s ability as a lead player is better showcased on this instrumental track than anywhere else on the album. With three minutes and no verses or vocals to compete with, he comfortably stretches out and doesn’t try to burn too hot or shred too much. The tempo is relaxed and the percussion peppers the song with some nice seasoning, but mostly what you get is Castiglia’s guitar.
Otis Taylor – “Think I Won’t:” Tom Petty says he’s gotten more feedback from fans about “I Won’t Back Down” than any song he’s written. At the time he wrote it he was afraid it was perhaps a bit too blunt and direct but it struck a nerve in listeners and he continues to play it each night to loud cheers and spirited singalongs. The theme of the individual facing down impossible odds and defying them has been a part of literature and art for centuries. Taylor writes about that in the form of a mother threatening a local drug dealer on a school playground. The tension in the song is built by some screaming steel guitar and the emphatic resistance is brought to life by defiant violin.