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Alligator (ALCD4949)

Credit where credit's due (as the actress said to the bank manager), Alligator Records are really giving all this ‘Keeping The Blues Alive' shtick some serious attention these days. They have already sent out some fabulous new releases in 2012 and now they go and present us with a double whammy of this new Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials album in June and the Rick Estrin And The Nightcats in July. Take my word for it, this is very good news indeed.

The Lil' Ed album is their eighth album for the label and, if you are lucky enough to have any (or all) of the previous releases, you will be thankful that this very much business as usual - clear evidence that the ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it' rule very much applies.

 Of the 14 pulsating new tracks, all but one are originals (mostly co-written by Ed and his wife, Pam) and the one cover (If You Change Your Mind)  is from Lil' Ed's uncle, the great J.B. Hutto.  As you might expect from any prior knowledge of the band, or JB Hutto himself, it is high voltage slide guitar and highly emotive singing pretty much all the way, from the first few notes of the opener If You Were Mine, right through to the closing Moratorium On Hate. Even when things slacken off - in pace and intensity, never quality - the whole thing is relative as Lil' Ed being slow and reflective still burns hotter than the rest.

There is honestly not a dud among these numbers - with the sensational House of Cards being among the best new songs I have heard this year. And we can't finish without a special commendation to the band who have been with Lil' Ed long enough now to know what he needs to best present his searing brand of contemporary Chicago blues. 

If you like your blues to be contemporary, raw and lively, this is highly recommended. Get this now, you won't be sorry - and I'm willing to wager you'll be back for one or more of the band's other albums pretty soon!

Review Date: June 2012

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