Friday, January 18, 2008

Back in Mississippi Live reviewed by David Stine

Back in Mississippi Live
Grady Champion (featuring Eddie Cotton Jr.)
GSM Music Group LLC, Canton MS.

There are a couple things that keep this CD from being a great live party album: Grady’s irritating (at times) voice, Eddie Cotton’s over-the-top and irritating guitar tone, and slamming a slow tribute to Grady’s mother (and all mothers) at song 9, which changes to the whole tone of the CD.

Recorded live at the 930 Blues CafĂ© in Mississippi on 7/7/07 in front of a live audience (although there is very little audience noise), the Grady Champion Revue is a cooking little band. If you wade though the poorly-written and horrendously-punctuated liner notes (LOTS of periods), you discover that Grady started out as a rapper who rediscovered the blues. This is Grady’s second CD and first live recording. The CD kicks off with an intro by Eddie Cotton Jr., which moves into “I’m Ready.” However, we are not ready for Grady’s Koko Taylor-like voice and affectation. Unfortunately, Mr Champion decides that this is his “blues” voice and uses it ad nauseam throughout most of the CD. Coupled with Eddie Cotton’s need to use a piercing guitar tone and rattle off staccatos of notes here and there, the CD, for me, was a chore to listen to. Like I said, have Grady sing in a normal voice, tell Eddie to clean up his tone and slow down and this wouldn’t be a bad CD. Throw the slow songs to the end with the bonus Christmas song (“Blues on Christmas”) as a bonus and this whole thing would hold together WAY better.

The CD takes off for me at song 4 when Grady gives up the covers and does his “You Got Some Explaining To Do” an up tempo soul/blues number. He hits again with his “1-800-Blu-Love” and “Policeman Blues” (also a video). The latter ends with some rapping by guest Jacktown Swiff. Somewhere during the performance, Grady yells this is the future of the blues. If he means blues-to-rap, I’m not buying it. From here, we get Grady’s reading of “Spoonful,” followed by his “Lonesome Bedroom Blues,” murdered again by Eddie Cotton’s need to overdo things. At this point the CD (and live performance) have been clicking along at a nice dancer’s pace when suddenly, in creeps “Love and Memories” which Grady dedicates to his mother and all mothers. And thus the CD’s momentum is lost. Even following this tune with B.B.’s “Why I Sing the Blues,” and Grady’s “Wine and Women” never really recovers the groove. Another slow ballad, “I’m Yours” leads us to “Blues for Christmas” (probably released as a single to blues radio. Will this song be another classic in the Christmas blues canon--no, but it’s OK.

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