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Madewright (BURN70)

Bad Bad Julie, Old Yellow Boy, Hey Tom I Saw You, I Wanna See Dr Bones, Run Here Baby Run, Back At The Bucket Of Blood, Brother Hay Shaker, Soul Serenade, Do Da Duck Quack Quack, Two Days Two Nights, Tryin’ To Make It To My Shack

Born in Mississippi in 1940 but having spent enough of his life based in Louisiana to unashamedly stake the claim to be the ‘Monarch Of New Orleans Blues’, on this evidence it is no idle boast. 

This, his latest album in a series for the Crescent City’s Madewright Records, demonstrates why Freddie is now considered to be just about the best living exponent of superb juke joint, down-home blues. You may have one of the earlier albums from the label or, going back a little further, a previous set released by Fat Possum, but this little beaut may well be his best yet.

Across 11 tracks Freddie leads his hot band through some down and dirty blues numbers that are variously swampy, sweaty, funky and rocking. Or, as the un-credited quotation on the back of the nice little digi-pack tells it, “Little Freddie King’s gut-bucket blues is not for the Martini-sippin’ city slicker. His brand of the blues is moonshine drippin’ from the backyard, still made from the remnants of a Delta farm feed through...It’s harsh, dirty and powerfully authentic”. PR-puffery this may be but that doesn’t make it any less accurate!

The members of the band ably themselves demonstrate just how much they are in control of their music on a handful of instrumentals that feature here. The five minutes plus of the beautifully paced Soul Serenade is a harmonica-led delight and Old Yellow Boy is just majestic, being led along by a slide guitar reminiscent of Sonny Landreth’s southern-style chops while the rest of the band segue into a rhythm that brings to mind Tequila by The Champs. Very effective and hugely enjoyable.

Elsewhere, the band is never less than solid and sympathetic to Freddie’s songs and vocal delivery. No relation to the better known Freddie King (though he did once play bass in his band), Little Freddie is said to be a cousin of Lightnin’ Hopkins and sometimes the family resemblance is suggested. Overall, though the most apt comparison is the classic Excello sound from the late 1950s and early 1960s, updated and made contemporary to the juke joints that the band has made its reputation in.

Do yourself a favour and order this now. There are far too few bands around playing this (our) kind of music like it should be played, never mind anything as good as this.

Review Date: April 2015

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