DEALING WITH THE DEVIL'S MUSIC - BLUESMEN IN BRITAIN
Little Brother Montgomery, James Cotton, Memphis Slim and Speckled Red supported by Alexis Korner, Chris Barber and more.
Drawn from recording sessions in the UK in 1960 and 1961 when visiting American bluesmen were beginning to become more common-place, this excellent collection includes eight sides apiece from Little Brother Montgomery and James Cotton, seven from Memphis Slim and three from Speckled Red. On some of the tracks they are notionally backed by enthusiastic UK blues luminaries like the Chris Barber Band and Alexis Korner but, apart from on the James Cotton sides which re-create a credible Chicago blues band sound, the presence of these supporting musicians is pretty incidental and barely adds anything to the music on offer
The James Cotton sides include good versions of classics associated with Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, Muddy Waters and others, the Memphis Slim performances are, as always, professional and engaging and the Speckled Red sides are enjoyable but hardly essential.
It is, to these ears at least, the Little Brother Montgomery sides that mark this CD out for special attention. On his recordings here, the pianist exudes considerable charm, taste and skill. Indeed, his range is demonstrably wide, from the lovely rolling blues vocals of Cow Cow Blues, Drinking Blues and New Vicksburg Blues, boogie woogie workouts such as Farish Street Jive and Pinetop's Boogie Woogie, to my favourite Chinee Man Blues, which evokes the spirit, style and talent of both Hoagy Carmichael and Fats Waller.
These sessions are pretty historic as they are an excellent representation of the beginnings of the blues boom and cultural awakening that was underway in the UK and Europe at this time. But more than that, this CD is highly recommended for the delights it offer from Little Brother Montgomery and the other performers included.
Review Date: March 2013