Saturday, October 02, 2010

Joe Louis Walker - Blues Conspiracy: Live on The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise (Stony Plain, 2010)

Guitarist and singer Joe Louis Walker has been a mainstay on the blues scene for many years, and this live album draws on the many friendships he has developed throughout his career. This album has several guest artists sitting in, but remains firmly Walker's show, and the high energy soulful blues is quite well done. Leading off with "Slow Down GTO" the group moves as fast as Walker's tale of a wild car out of control, until he abruptly shifts tempo and slows down for a pointillist guitar interlude. Johnny Winter sits in on "Ain't That Cold" and his heavier slide enhanced guitar is a nice counterpoint to Walker's quick and nimble playing. Things slow down dramatically on the soul ballad "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" with Walker ceding most of the vocal duties to guests Curtis Salgado and Mike Finnigan. The pace picks up again and the focus shifts back to the leader with the scalding "Eyes Like a Cat" featuring Walker's deft guitar and gospel influenced vocals. Several more cruise players join Walker on a couple of fast paced numbers "Ten More Shows To Play" and the standard "Born in Chicago." The centerpiece of the album is a lengthy version of "Sugar Mama" with great guitar and singing from Walker and an excellent harmonica interlude for Watermelon Slim. Walker is very generous with his guests on this album, giving them plenty of space, but clearly he is on control and playing very well throughout, as they wrap up the album and the night's music with uptempo runs through "It's a Shame" and "747." Walker says that he saw an opportunity on the blues cruise to extend two albums he did in the past, the collaborative Great Guitars and the live LP's he had recorded at Slim's in San Francisco. This concept works out well and shows a fine example of the high energy live performance he is known for. Blues Conspiracy -

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