Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blues Nation reviewed by Mark Thompson

Blues Nation
Luther Badman Keith
BMB Records
17 tracks/68:17

Hailing from Detroit, guitarist Luther Badman Keith did not get interested in music until he attended a marathon live show in the 1980's by the late Luther Allison. Keith has been steadily building his career, which includes reaching the semi-finals at the 2006 International Blues Challenge and being named the winner of the 2007 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Blues songwriter. His latest release is comprised of fifteen original tunes, six of which include “blues” in the title.

The title track will remind you of Santana's”Evil Ways” with the Badman's half-spoken vocal riding over percussion and an energetic horn section as he lays out his vision for a better world for all. The deep, funky groove on “Blueswoman, Looking for Love” is set-up by Jim David on the organ with Mark Croft on trumpet and Billy Furman on sax adding some additional spice. “Keep the Good Blues Bad” has strong piano work from David and some nasty guitar picking from Keith. The rollicking music on “Menopause Woman” belies the serious tale of heartbreak Keith describes in the lyrics. The final track is a live recording of “Nose Wide Open” featuring a energetic vocal from the leader and a fine sax solo from the late James Payton.

On a few tracks like “Intoxication Love” and “Magical Girl”, Keith's singing misses the mark as he can't quite hit all of the notes. He also struggles a bit on “Seven Days into the Blues” but the power of his performance and his blistering guitar solo carry the day. He is more effective on the slower blues tunes like “Cream in Your Coffee”, which opens with a nice guitar solo. Even better is Keith's examination of life's twists and turns on “Life Got in the Way” with another excellent sax solo from Furman. It is vastly superior to “What Happened to Rock N Roll”, a generic rocker that finds Keith name-dropping many of the early greats of rock and soul. He does a duet with Paul “Bluesman” Miles on “Talking Old Bluesmen”, with Furman playing some down-home harmonica licks.

It's great to hear a disc of all original blues tunes, especially since many of Keith's tunes hold up through repeated listens. Badman Keith is a solid guitar player and singer with lots of energy plus  plenty of enthusiasm for blues music. If he can maintain a fresh approach to songwriting and continue to develop his vocal skills, he could one day garner comparisons to the legendary musician that once inspired him.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

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