Saturday, July 04, 2009

Charlie Musselwhite - Memphis, Tennessee (Capitol, 1970)

When he was three years old Charlie Musselwhite's family moved to Memphis, and that city would always have a great hold on the young man who would eventually become an influential blues harmonica player and singer. Even when he moved the California in the late '60's he never lost that deep south feel to his music. On this album he is accompanied by steel guitarist Freddie Roulette, Jack Myers on bass and Skip Rose on piano. These men give the music a unique and original sound, moving from gutbucket blues to soul jazz. In between Memphis and California, Musselwhite had a lengthy stop in the blues mecca of Chicago where he learned at the feet of some of the masters of the genre, and this apprenticeship pays off handsomely in the opener "She Used to Be Beautiful" and the raging tale of alcohol fueled excess "One Mint Julep" both of which have a storming Chicago blues feel to them, tough and urban music with some excellent harmonica playing from the leader. The disc ends with a couple more Chicago standards, showing Musselwhite's deep ties to the tradition by playing Muddy Waters' "Trouble No More" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Done Somebody Wrong." The group also gets to show off their jazz chops with a subtle rendition of "Willow Weep For Me." This is a very solid album and it deserves wider recognition, Charlie Musselwhite's singing and harp playing are excellent throughout, and the addition of steel guitar gives the band's sound a unique and interesting feel.
Memphis Tennessee -

Send comments to: Tim