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William Clarke

Heavy Hittin' West Coast Harp (vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

The new LP is a compilation of music from a killer blues artist who was not well-known outside certainly circles. It includes a host of studio recordings along with a live track. There are some definite rarities here. That's true in part because his music is out of print and was never widely released, but also because there is one track that's previously unreleased. There is a healthy mix of blues and jazz here. While the recordings here are not of modern quality expectations, they sound good and really do represent the era in which they were released. The records if a heavy vinyl album with a gatefold sleeve. Overall, this is a great product that's well worth having for blues harp fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Side A
                
Let's Celebrate Life (Gone)

This drives in with a killer bluesy, jazz groove. The band jams with style and Clarke delivers a powerful vocal performance. The blues harp solo is on fire, too.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
More of a pure blues jam, this is another killer track. The mood and tone is so classy.
Chromatic Jump (live version)
I dig the jumping groove on this tune. The blues meets jazz approach is effective and a lot of fun. This is one of the better tunes here for me. It has a real :get you moving" vibe.
Going Home To My Baby
This song was previously unreleased, but I have to admit that I'm not as taken by this number. It has its charms, but is just sort of a slow blues number that doesn't seem all that special. Still, the harp solo works well to enhance the arrangement.
Must Be Jelly
An energetic old school rock and roll meets blues groove, this is so much fun. It's one of the highlights of the set for me. I love the clean guitar solo on this thing.
Side B
            
That Ain't The Way To Do It

I love the walking bass line on this thing. The whole tune just cooks. It's an energetic blues groove that works so well. This is another highlight of the set.

I Got My Bags Packed
More of a gritty, hard-edged blues rocker, this works quite well, too.
Hittin' Heavy
Old school blues and jazz merge on this smoking hot number. It has great energy and a killer groove to it. This is another instrumental.
When I Get Drunk
Gritty vintage blues is at the wheel on this driving number. It's another piece of class on a disc with plenty of them.
Tribute To George Smith
The retro stylings on this number just ooze cool. It's a powerhouse cut in the form of a slow groove. This is another instrumental and one with killer jamming from everyone involved.
 
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