One of the greatest living Chicago blues guitarists, Lurrie Bell's last two CDs have been about stretching him (successfully) to showcase the breadth as well as the magnitude of his art. However for this project he just wanted to get back to the solid foundation of Chicago-styled traditional guitar blues, done with his rare blend of reverence, involvement and individuality and framed largely by his working band…
Japanese limited edition issue of the album classic in a deluxe, miniaturized LP sleeve replica of the original vinyl album artwork. "Blues In My Heart" was released in 1963 and sees B.B. in a small combo setting with ample room for his strong guitar fills and concise solos. Plas Johnson supplies the smoky tenor saxophone backing while Maxwell Davis contributes the keyboard duties.
Sometimes even the most consistent artists need to shake things up a bit. In Robert Cray's case, that means shuffling his lineup – he retained longtime bassist Richard Cousins but brought in drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg – and bringing in producer Steve Jordan, who last worked with Cray on 1999's Take Your Shoes Off. There's a reason this record is called In My Soul: Jordan assists Cray in moving toward Memphis soul, dedicating the entire record to slow, sultry burners that emphasize his mellow vocals and dexterous grooves. This may primarily be a mood record but the individual songs are also quite strong, whether it's the originals ("Fine Yesterday" is so gorgeous it makes heartbreak seem welcome) or sharply chosen covers. Among the latter is a cleanly funky reading of Otis Redding's "Nobody's Fault But Mine," which features Falconer on co-lead vocals, an unusual change of pace for Cray that also signals how the veteran guitarist has been revitalized by his change in companions. He's willing to lay back into his soul but will also cede the spotlight, knowing that the groove is the main thing.
Big George Jackson might be based in the north, but his heart is very firmly below the Mason-Dixon line. Along with his band, the singer and harp player belts out some very raw blues, with a groove that simply won't quit — just listen to the cover of Otis Smothers' "I've Done More for You, Baby" for an example. But there's more to the band. Jackson not only has a wonderful deep voice, but a very strong turn of phrase in his lyrics, while there are no meandering solos in the group — everything is razor sharp, as typified by guitarists Jeremy Johnson and Phil Schmid, who never use ten notes when one will suffice. The album was recorded in their home studio, but the sound is as full as anything done somewhere more expensive. It may be blues straight down the line, yet it's anything but by the numbers.