THE BLUES FOR IDA B SESSION - CHICAGO 1982 (DVD)
Little Boy, Nothing But A Gypsy Man, Love Me True, I Wonder Why, Love Me Mama, This Little Letter, Grease Me Baby, Nothing But The Blues, Sitting Here Looking, Chicken Licken, Blues For Ida B.
I remember going to see Louisiana Red in concert at Newport Leisure Centre in the mid-1980s, probably only a year or two after this session was captured. It may be that Red just had a rare off-night or perhaps I was out-of-sorts myself, but my over-riding memory of the evening was leaving a little disappointed. Who knows, it may just be that a leisure centre in south-east Wales does not register as an ideal venue to be presenting a bona-fide American blues legend, but I doubt it. I'd seen Joe Louis Walker there about the same period and my memory tells me that he was pretty good.
Since then I have always been a little ambivalent about Louisiana Red, even when confronted by some excellent CDs. Thankfully, this DVD helps dispel any lingering doubts, featuring our guy on an hour long performance of impressive blues, variously played on acoustic and electric guitar, both with and without the use of a slide.
It is in fact a very good thing that Red is able to capture and keep our attention by himself for the duration of this performance as the setting he is placed in can only be said to be sparse - as far as it is shown, it is just him, his guitars and a series of microphones. The camera work sustains a focus on his singing and playing but rarely, if ever, leaves him to provide any broader context or ambience, If there is an audience in the studio for his playing this is not made clear, but this is of course of no real matter as the singing, playing and occasional verbal introductions to songs keep you glued to proceedings.
He may not have been the most original country blues artist but he clearly offers here an exemplary snapshot of what was, even in 1982, a disappearing breed. It is also a nice touch that before some of the numbers, he speaks warmly about friends and influences that have helped contribute to his development as a musician. B.B. King and Mississippi Fred McDowell both get a nice name check. I think both would approve of this performance and its release here.
Review Date: January 2013