Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Various Artists - Andrew Vachss' Safe House (Relativity, 1998)

Author and attorney Andrew Vachss has spent years fighting the good fight against child abuse and neglect, both in the courtroom (representing only minors) and writing his famous Burke series of dark crime novels. Reading the books, you learn that Burke (and Vachss himself) are deep fans of the blues. This compilation CD, with all of the tracks picked by the author is something of a soundtrack to the books, the music that Burke would listen to while cruising the mean streets of New York City. It's a fine collection of deep blues, with some classic Chicago blues providing the anchor in Howlin' Wolf's classic "I Asked for Water (and She Gave Me Gasoline)" with Wolf's trademark growl relaying the story of a man done wrong. Contrast to that the braggadocio of Muddy Waters' "She's 19 Years Old" with the old man gleefully belting out the lyrics about his young woman. Female singers are well represented as well, with tracks from Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball and Vachss (and Burke's) own favorite, blues chanteuse Judy Henske. The music gets way down in the alley as B.B. King would say with tracks from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band "I Got a Mind To Give Up Livin'" and Buddy Guy's "One Room Country Shack" that demonstrate the deep sadness at the core of the blues. Overall it is a fine collection, one which will hopefully introduce fans of the blues to Vachss stories (there is a short story included in the liner notes) or his own fans to the blues. Either way, it's a win-win. Safe House - The Zero

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