Thursday, April 5, 2012

Delmark Presents :It Ain't Over - 55 Years Of Blues

I opened the mail yesterday and found a real treat. I received a copy of the recording, It Ain't Over celebrating Delmark's 55 years in business live at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. I have been in this club many many times and this would have had to be the blast of all blasts. The opening track finds powerhouse singer Zora Young doing some power funk with a backing band featuring Lurie Bell and Scott Cable on guitars, Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, Bob Stronger on bass and Kenny Smith on drums. Young's Till The Fat Lady Sings is a great opener for this show. Bell throws down some great blues riffs on the funk playing his 335 and as Purifoy starts to rap out the funk on the keys Young starts to channel the godfather of soul with some squeals that would make JB proud. The rhythm section on this band is remarkably tight and Cable gets in some hot riffs on his Strat. I notice three amps on stage throughout the night which appear to be a Brownface Vibroverb, a Pro Tweed and a Blackface Twin.
Next up is Jimmy Johnson who does two great songs; Cold Cold Feeling and You Don't Know What Love Is. Johnson's vocals are very strong and deliberate and grab you good. He also manages to squeeze some terrific blues solos out of what I have found to be in general a sterile guitar. It's like they say, Jeff Beck can play a toy guitar and it will still sound like Jeff beck. Well. this isn't a toy and Johnson knows how to play it really well. Johnson is backed by Dave Specter on guitar, Brother John Kattke on keys, Harlan Terson on bass and Marty Binder on drums. Kattke gets the opportunity to show his stuff on You Don't Know and Spector takes a cool second guitar solo on his Epi 335 with the mini pickups.
Aaron Moore takes the stage for two vocal/ piano numbers with Kenny Smith on drums. It's all about style and Moore delivers the goods on Wading In Deep Water and Why You So Mean To Me.
Little Arthur Duncan leads the next set of Pretty Girls Everywhere and I Got To Go of course featuring Duncan, ever the showman, on harp and vocals, Rick Kreher on Strat, Nick Moss on a JazzMaster, Bob Stronger on bass (Fender Jazz) and Kenny Smith on drums. I hadn't mentioned it earlier but Stronger is right in the pocket and always tight. Moss takes short crisp solos on each track.
Lurrie Bell is up next with Don't You Lie To Me and Reconsider Baby. Bell is joined by Purifoy, Stronger and Smith. He plays both pickups most of the time and seems to opt for more of a twangy single coil tone that really suits his playing style. (The more I watch this video the more I am impressed by Stronger's incredibly tight playing). Bell really digs in on Don't You Lie To Me and lays down a very cool shuffle solo. On Reconsider Baby Bells vocals are impressive and he has fattened up his tone somehow and really takes the 335 down. Some extremely impressive playing by Bell in choice not only of riffs and style but neck position for effect and dynamics.
Bell's crew stays on stage and they bring up Shirley Johnson to sing a terrific version of As The Years Go Passing By. Johnson has a great deep rich voice and Bell keeps stinging the tune with impeccable taste. Bell gets another chance to shine and he steps up. He is relentless on the 335 and squeezes every drop of blues out of it!
Eddie Shaw replaces Johnson with Bell and crew and rips onto the stage playing a great tenor sax into to For You My Love. He leads the band in vocals and Purifoy's presence is more prominent. Shaw blows some major league riffs and the place is hoppin. The Sun Is Shining, a great loping blues tune gives the band a great opportunity to stretch a little first with Shaw on tenor, then with Purifoy on keys and bell on guitar. This turns into a cool boogie jam.
Last up is Tail Dragger with the addition of Big D. on Harp, Kevin Shanihan on Strat for Tend To Your Business. Big D. takes a great swat on harp and the band lays back and lets TD have the floor. Bell takes a particularly articulate stretch on this track and Shanahan gets in a quick tasty shot of the blues. For the final track Tail Dragger does a great version of My Woman Is Gone. His vocals are impressive and the band is tight. Billy Branch joins on harp and blows out some terrific riffs.
This is a great show commemorating the 55th year of Delmark and the declaration of Delmark Records Day (March 7, 2008) in Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Dailey and the hard work done by founder Bob Koester of such a meaningful blues milestone.
Special features including a pretty insightful discussion of the history of Delmark, it's development and the blues. It's a great listen.
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