Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes was a triple threat as a singer, guitarist and harmonica player. A legend on the stages of juke joints of Mississippi, Chicago and St. Louis, he was mentored by the great Howlin' Wolf and picked up on some of Wolf's stage mannerisms and presence. Barnes only got the opportunity to make one album during his lifetime, but it was a good one, and the rough and ready energy he brought to his live concerts transferred well to a studio recording. The music is excellent throughout, especially on the Wolf covers, where he sounds uncannily like he's channeling the big man. Tearing through "Rockin' Daddy" and the Wolf standard "Louise" his deep throaty growl and wheezy harmonica recall the heyday of Chicago blues. The medley of "Blind Man/I Pity the Fool" demonstrates Barnes patience with slower material, both his guitar and voice are low down and soulful, echoing deep despair and a survivor's defiance simultaneously. With this album and his appearance on in the film and the soundtrack to Robert Palmer's Deep Blues, Barnes hard work had paid off and he reached the pinnacle of his career. Sadly, it wasn't to last. he passed away not long after. But his energy and commitment to the blues are captured in this excellent album for all to hear.
The Heartbroken Man - amazon.com
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Unnatural Ways - We Aliens (Tzadik, 2016) ****
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