Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Driftin’ From Town to Town reviewed by Steve Jones

Driftin’ From Town to Town 
Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson’s Blues All Stars
The Sirens Records
13 tracks

Following up from his great 2006 Blues All Stars releases I Got My Eyes On You, Barrelhouse Chuck has delivered a superb new set of tunes for blues fans to appreciate. Featuring two songs by Chuck (one co-authored by Kim Wilson) and a selection of 11 great covers, this album is Chicago blues done right.  As with most of his albums. Chuck also provides us a great smorgasbord of snapshots from his personal collection of classic shots of him and his musical family (and real family) and friends.

Chuck and Kim have appeared countless times together with the Blues All Stars.  This version includes their long-time stalwarts and friends Billy Flynn and Jeremy Johnson on guitars, Larry Taylor on bass, Richard Innes on drums, and here with Sax Gordon on tenor and baritone sax on five cuts.  These guys are together and in synch– there is no confusion about who is doing what; they are consummate professionals.

The CD opens to the swinging and hopping Cal Green tune “The Big Push.”  This was a great opener; covering this superb instrumental from the author of “The Twist” was just the thing to set the tone and get the juices flowing for more great blues.  Sax Gordon makes his first appearance here an  shows us what he can do.  Next up is the title track, Chuck’s tune.  He delivers a poignant piano solo and they completely sell it with his authentic vocals and a nice harp solo by Kim.  Wilson fronts the band with Howlin’ Wolf’s “I’m Leaving You;” he gives us some nice and dirty vocals as Chuck aptly tickles the keys.  The guitar solos are smooth and slick here, too, and Gordon steps in for a little sweet horn work. “Stockyard Blues” is a little number by Johnny Young and Floyd Jones that is always one of my favorites from Chuck; I love how he handles his vocals on this song.  Wilson grunts and snorts out some cool harp on this one; it could almost be a stockyards sound.  The guitar solos later in the cut are also sweet.

Jody Williams’ “Lucky Lou” instrumental is next and the guitar work here is impeccable.  The guitar sings lead to us here.  One can see how Otis rush would fall in love with William’s stuff– classic Chicago sounds and these guys really sea the deal.  They follow that with Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Day’s” which I have heard Wilson, Flynn and Chuck do before; they are spot on here and do a fantastic job.  They even throw in a little call and response.  The piano and guitar as cool here and Wilson’s vocals leave no room for complaint.  “Flat Foot Sam” is a swinging rockabilly with some colorful lyrics and these guys blow it away and have a fun time doing so.  The two leaders gang up for “K&C Boogie,” a delightful harp and piano boogie that Mssrs Wilson and Goering penned.  A very nice instrumental that the two go back and forth on and the band supports the effort well.  Floyd Jones’ “You Can’t Live That Long” is another vehicle for Chuck to show off his great vocals with and Kim supports him with some nicely distorted harp.  He tells his baby to drink on and if she stays intoxicated she can’t live long.  It’s a different take on the blues as Jones is telling his woman to go off and let drink kill her instead of trying to get her to quit, and Chuck delivers that message well.
Chuck then shouts out “She’s Got A Thing Going  On,” a song Sunnyland Slim immortalized and that Chuck coves so well. Willie Dixon’s “Three Hundred Pounds” gets an instrumental cover and it’s well done; a great blend by the boys with Kim’s harp leading the charge.  “Anna Lee” is another one of my favorites by Chuck; this Robert Nighthawk song is one he always delivers on and he does here, too.  They conclude with Booker T and the MG’s “Time is Tight;” a sweet organ leading the way, the driving beat and some nice filler solos make this a great conclusion to an extremely fun ride.

I can’t recommend this enough.  This is Chicago blues and some related materials done right– don’t delay in adding this to your collection.  You will be sorry if you don’t!.  Most highly recommended!!!

Reviewed by Steve Jones

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