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Various Artists

This is the Blues Volume 2

Review by Gary Hill

Here’s another installment in the This is the Blues series. The music here is perhaps more exceptional than on the first one. It stays closer to pure blues than that one did, as well. That said, there are a couple points here where this one veers off track in terms of sticking with the blues. This is a great disc for all fans of the blues and includes some scorching performances.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Rory Gallagher / John Cook / Rich Newman / Spoon - Leaving Town Blues

The first half of this track is in an old school, stripped down, acoustic blues style. It powers out after a while for a smoking guitar solo, but the acoustic sounds still remain in the mix. It drops back to that mellower motif for another vocal appearance and then the two sounds seem to be combined going forward.

Jack Bruce / Dick Heckstall-Smith / Clem Clempson / Ronnie Leahy / Neal Wilkinson – Send For Me
We get a very old school blues treatment here. It reminds me a lot of something you might get from B.B. King in terms of the arrangement. There’s a smoking harmonica solo and the song just plain grooves. It’s a really satisfying and incendiary piece of music.
Dave Peverett / Rod Price / Southside Johnny / Tommy Mandel / Harvey Brooks / Mo Potts – Love that Burns
This is a slower blues that’s just packed with emotion. It reminds me a bit of “The Thrill Is Gone” in terms of evocative qualities and general sound. I should mention that I consider “The Thrill Is Gone” to be the greatest song ever written, so that says a lot. This is just an incredible performance with smoking musicianship from each member of the group. The blues just doesn’t get much better than this! 
John Lee Hooker / Booker T. Jones / Randy California / Bruce Gary / Phillip Chen – Red House
As you might guess from that lineup, this is a scorching, rocking blues rendition of the classic cut. It’s another highlight of the set and a real screamer. 
Zoot Money / Bobby Tench / John McKenzie / Jeff Allen – Whatcha Gonna Do
This is less real blues and more of a rock sound – think of it along the lines of Robert Cray with more retro elements. It’s good, but not up to the level of the music that preceded it. 
Savoy Brown – Stop Messin’ Round
Here we get an old school sort of acoustic blues jam with a real walking bass pattern. The harmonica solo on this is quite tasty. 
Duffy Power / Dick Heckstall-Smith / Alex Keen – Go Down Sunshine
There’s a mellow, stripped down old school blues texture to this, but yet it works out into some cool jazzy treatments as it continues. The lyrics to this rang in as familiar to me. I figured out why as it carried on, Hawkwind reference these lyrics on their first album.
Paul Jones / Bobby Tench / Max Middleton / Bob Jenkins / Pete Brown – Albatross
I guess this instrumental is bluesy, but I don’t know if I’d call it the blues. I suppose from a jazz point of view it is. It’s a pretty cut that’s got a lot going for it. It’s just not what I would really think of as real blues. 
Peter Green / Nigel Watson - Travelling Riverside Blues
You might be familiar with Led Zeppelin’s version of this Robert Johnson song. Here Peter Green and Nigel Watson put in a traditional blues treatment. I don’t hear this track and the Zeppelin version as being very similar at all – in terms of lyrics or performance. That said, some of the later lyrics do show up in Zeppelin’s version and some of them are heard in Zeppelin’s “Lemon Song.”
Southside Johnny / Dave Peverett / Rod Price / Tommy Mandel / Harvey Brooks / Mo Potts
Baby When The Sun Goes Down – This rocker feels more like something from The Allman Brothers. It’s good and bluesy, but, again, I wouldn’t consider it as real blues. It’s got some cool horns in the arrangement. 
Harvey Mandel / Jon Paris / Wilbur Bascomb / Damon Duewhite - Ramblin' Pony
Here we get a hard rocking blues jam in the tradition of acts like Buddy Guy. It’s a real scorcher. 
Nine Below Zero – Nine Below Zero
As this comes in it almost feels like heavy metal. It moves out to a scorching electric blues jam that feels like an old school blues electrified. This is another killer. 
Naked Blue – Closing My Eyes
I really don’t hear a lot of blues on this. It’s more a modern rock song. It’s a good tune, but not the most fitting of entries here. I can hear more of a modern country music tinge on this than the blues. 
Pete Brown / Phil Ryan / Dick Heckstall-Smith / Les Davidson / Henry Thomas / Bob Jenkins – Rocks in My Bed
Here we have a killer electric guitar blues groove. This reminds me a bit of something from Eric Clapton. It does have a bit more of an authentic old school twist than that comparison would convey. 
T.S. McPhee / Dick Heckstall-Smith / Clem Clempson / David Hadley / Jeff Allen – I’m Leaving
This is a killer blues groove. It’s got some serious jazz elements built into it, but is also just plain old school blues. Somehow it reminds me a little of Wilson Pickett. This becomes a real jam as it continues.
 
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