SHATTERED DREAMS - FUNKY BLUES 1967-1978
Beat Goes Public (CDBGPD229)
Slim Green, Finis Tasby, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Otis Show, Little Milton, Icewater Slim, Albert King, Smokey Wilson, Larry Davis, Buddy Guy, Little Sonny, Albert Washington, Big Daddy Rucker, Ray Agee, Freddy Robinson, Arthur K Adams.
Don't let that ‘funky' blues subtitle bother you, this isn't an album full of humphing and hupping and everybody-say-yeah-soul-strutting. The music on this CD is the result of blues musicians of the late 60s and early 70s getting to grips with the idea that their music had better move with the times. Lowell Fulson knew that when he wrote Tramp and Otis and Carla topped the charts with it in 1967 and Albert King was right on the ball when he took his brand of new style blues to Stax and recorded such albums as I Wanna Get Funky.
On this CD Lowell Fulson demonstrates this new approach in the boogaloo blast of Mellow Together which sounds like an outtake from a Muscle Shoals session until he adds some ripping pure blues licks on the guitar. The Johnny Otis Show hits the same groove in the low-down beat of Country Girl. Johnny's son Shuggie Otis obviously has some input in this with his snappy guitar runs creating what was then a spanking new feel on both The Johnny Otis Show tracks and again on the sessions of other label mates like Slim Green whose fabulous Shake ‘Em Up has a hard-edged attitude matched only by the full fat sound of Big Daddy Rucker's You Got Me Movin'.
Other younger blues men soon got stuck into this style of blues and so we hear the likes of Finis Tasby hitting a deep groove on his up-tempo shaker It Took A Long Time, harp player Little Sonny injecting his instrumental Eli's Pork Chop with a James Brown riff on top of some wicked drumming and then Larry Davis slaps out some of the most soul drenched blues ever on the divine The Whole World's Down On You.
This CD is dripping with great performances but I must mention my favourites: Good Feeling by Freddy Robinson has the timing, phrasing and funkiness of the best material by Lowell George or Allen Toussaint and You Shattered My Dreams by Smokey Wilson must be one of the greatest secrets of 1978 - it's such a slow-burning slice of sheer class with a great arrangement, throbbing horn section and superb vocals. Both these tracks are stormers but I have to admit the rest of the tracks on this fabulous CD are not far behind. The seventies weren't as bad as we thought. Buy this - it's a revelation!
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Review Date: April 2011