Saturday, November 28, 2009

Big Joe Turner and Roomful of Blues – Blues Train (Muse Records, 1983)

Legendary blues singer Big Joe Turner had an amazing career that stretched from the speakeasies of depression era Kansas City to early rock 'n' roll and an autumnal comeback. For this album, he hooks up with the retro jump blues and Roomful of Blues for a nice album of standards and originals. Turner had lost a little bit of range by this point (he was 72 years of age) but he could still bring it, belting out the opening “Crawdad Hole” with gruff authority. The highlight of the album was the two instrumental performances, where Big Joe takes a breather and the band steps up to wail. “Jumpin' for Joe” finds the group energized by Turner and Pomus and they roll out a blasting performance led by high energy horn riffing. The interesting liner notes by producer Joel Dorn describe the deep friendship between Turner and the songwriter Doc Pomus, who helped to straw-boss this session. The combination of an experienced singer and a hot and hungry band works out pretty well here. Turner sounds a little tired at times, but that just adds to the aura of world-weariness of his blues. Blues Train -