Sunday, October 31, 2010

Elmore James Jr. - Baby Please Set a Date (Wolf, 2010)

Billing himself as the "undisputed" son of the blues immortal Elmore James, Junior certainly has the skills to keep the family banner waiving high. This album is filled with high energy traditional electric blues, sounds that wouldn't be out of place in the Chicago clubs of yore. James plays guitar and sings, filling out the band with Jake Dawson on guitar and Ed Williams on saxophone along with bass and drums. They start off strongly with the title track building around some rock solid riffing and powerful vocals from James. He turns "Please Send Me Someone To Love" into a medium tempo gospel drenched number, wringing a lot of emotion from the vocals. One of James Sr.'s most well known tunes "Look on Yonder's Wall" is next, taken at a very fast tempo with a nice slide guitar feature. The group plays it safe by adding several more songs originally associated with the older man, but they work well. Junior can't quite reach the level of heartbroken anguish of the original on "The Sky is Crying" but there is some tasty slide, and "Dust My Broom" is some fine rocking blues. "Steppin' With Elmo" is a quick and nimble instrumental, while the other instrumental, a feature for saxophonist Williams called "Dustin'" seems a little out of phase with the rest of the record going for an adult contemporary sound amidst a rootsy album. But overall, this is a solid slice of electric blues and James is a confident singer and guitarist. They have the traditional electric blues sound down and the next step is to build on this foundation. Baby Please Set a Date -

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