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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

True North Records artist: Colin James - Blue Highways - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blue Highway, from Colin James and it's super! Opening with Freddie King's Boogie Funk, James is really ripping with excellent guitar tone and pace. Craig Northey is on rhythm guitar, with Norm Fisher on bass and Pat Steward on drums. Simon Kendall's organ work is tops and Steve Marriner's harp is vital. On Peter Green's Watch Out, James steps up on lead vocal and the pace is just right. Jesse O'Brien is up or organ with Steve Pelletier on bass and Geoff Hicks on drums. James lays down a solid guitar solo and Simon Kendall lays in a nice organ solo as well. Tommy Johnson's Big Road Blues gets a more modern rocking beat with James on vocal and slide. With an almost JJ Cale feel, this track could see a multi channel radio play. Made famous by Freddie King and Jeff Beck, Don Nix's Going Down is up next with a solid blues rocking drive. O'Brien's piano work is tight and James' vocals are clear, paving a broad street for some lightning guitar riffs. Very cool! Retreating into the basics of the blues, Muddy Waters' Gypsy Woman is up next and James shows his basis understanding of the blues on both guitar and vocal holding his own...old style. I particularly like O'Brien's piano riffs on this track as well as Marriner's harp work. Very cool. On Jimmy Rogers, Goin Away, James takes a little bit of an Eric Clapton approach to the track with nice slide work and backing vocals by Chris Caddell and Coleen Rennison. Memphis Slim's Lonesome gets a big swing and James steps up with monster guitar riffs. His vocals are smooth, nicely complimented by O'Brien's piano. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues. This track is really tight to the original and James vocals and guitar riffs work nicely, highlighted by the masterful harp work by Marriner. Setting a cool acoustic blues set is Willie Dixon/ Jimmy Reed, Riding in The Moonlight / Mr. Luck. Light and snappy, James holds down acoustic guitar and vocal balanced with Marriner's harp. Very nice. Soulful William Bell track, Don't Miss Your Water gives James a chance to really show off his vocal chords and smooth they are. With simple arpeggiated chords and with horn backing by Jerry Cook and Derry Byrne this track has a super sound. Blind Willie McTell's Ain't Long For Day is up next and of course drawing out a really nice slide solo by James. It is more soulful than bluesy but heartfelt had solid. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Robert Johnson's Last Fair Deal done in standard Piedmont style. With James only on guitar and vocal, he gives the track some acoustic flair but holding true to the blues. A nice little closer to a really nice release.

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