T-Bone Walker – T-Bone Blues (Atlantic, 1959)
Allmmusic.com calls this “the last truly indispensable album” of T-Bone Walker’s career. While that may not exactly be the case, this disc does prove to be one of the finest slices of blues you’re likely to hear, an example of a blues musician at the height of his powers. Walker is placed in an environment where he is likely to thrive, out in front of a good rhythm section and a great group of horns where he can play sterling solos on his guitar and sing in a classy, dignified manner.
The setlist features some classic tunes including a remake of Walker’s best known song “They Call It Stormy Monday” which features some beautiful guitar work as well as a wry, world weary vocal that wrings every drop of energy from the song. There are also some wonderful instrumentals, “Two Bones and a Pick,” and “Blues Rock” which have Walker’s incomparable guitar soloing in front of the band. Another standard that deserves mention is “Mean Old World.” T-Bone works so well at a ballad tempo, never rushing the music, but pacing everything perfectly and timing his vocals and guitar breaks just so.
Walker would fall from favor a little bit toward the end of his career as rock and roll and funk began their ascendancy replacing his type of classy rhythm and blues in the r & b charts, but as this record shows, he never lost his touch.
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