Veteran harp man Pryor (who claims to be the first to amplify his harmonica) was still capable of some potent blues when he released this album in early 1999. Kicking off with a solo version of Faye Adams' "Shake a Hand" (its lyrics reworked heavily into the title track) that owes a huge debt to idol Sonny Boy Williamson II, Pryor settles into a comfortable groove with a tight little trio behind him consisting of Bob Stroger on bass, Billy Flynn on guitar and Jimmy Tilman on drums. His version of Hank Ballard's "Annie Had a Baby" is so radically different that it almost qualifies as an original, while his covers of Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama" and Sleepy John Estes' "Someday Baby" stay closer to the originals. The rest of the set features Snooky's great originals, with the minor-keyed "Headed South," "In This Mess," "Jump for Joy" and a nice remake of his "Telephone Blues" being particular standouts. Simple, no-frills production makes this a modern-day blues album that delivers the wallop of the old singles.
Ferlin Husky shares billing on his volume of Bear Family's ongoing rockabilly and country-boogie series, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight, with Simon Crum and Terry Preston – two aliases he adopted in the thick of and at the start of his career, respectively. Unlike Collectors' Choice Music's 2002 collection Country Music Is Here to Stay, the focus of this 2016 set is not on the novelties of Simon Crum. Instead, this rounds up 32 sides Husky recorded in any incarnation, with the uniting factor being its swing.
JSP's Shake That Thing: East Coast Blues compiles four CD's of performances by country blues pickers Gabriel Brown, Dan Pickett, and Ralph Willis. It's hard to go wrong with these 105 obscure recordings cut between 1935 and 1953. The tracks have been remastered, making the majority of this material sound great. Unlike other packages of this type, the liner notes are informative; listing personnel, dates, and concise history without going on ad nauseam. As an extra bonus this is a budget-priced set making it highly recommended, for both the collector and the blues novice
An intensely powerful singer and guitarist, Elmore James did not start his recording career until he was 33, and he only lived to be 45, but he made a very strong impact during his dozen years on records. Some of his finest work was cut for the Fire label during 1959-1961, roughly half of which is included on this single CD. Other than a final outburst of selections during February 1963, these were James' last studio sessions, and he is heard at the peak of his powers throughout. Among the best-known performances are the hit "Shake Your Moneymaker," "The Sky Is Crying," and a remake of his famous "Dust My Broom," but all 16 selections are full of passion and fire. This is an essential acquisition for blues collectors, at least until a more complete James on Fire reissue comes out.
From Bob James & David Sanborn's Grammy-winning Double Vision to George Benson & Earl Klugh's Collaboration, Warner Brothers has released some of the greatest dual projects in smooth jazz. Rick Braun's signing to the label this year has paved the way for the label's best tandem project yet, pairing the trumpet star's jazzy sensibilities with the ultra-funk dynamics of R&B saxman Boney James. Rather than simply a clever name, the album title reflects the way the two bounce off of and drive each other to reach artistic heights beyond their typical solo endeavors.