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Alligator (ALCD4972)

Giving Up On Your Love, Raining In Paris, Poor Man’s Song, Shy Voice, Black Diamond Love, Whiskey Flavored Tears, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, Is It You?, I’m Done, Deep In My Soul, I Want It All, I Like My Hot Sauce Cold, Troubled World, Green Light Groove.

The ninth album for Alligator and, just like each of its predecessors, this is another burning example of just why Lil’ Ed and the band have long been the reigning champions of the raucous, slide-heavy Chicago blues sound.

This new delight has 14 stomping tracks, 12 of which being originals written by Lil’ Ed and his good lady wife, Pam. The other two tracks are covers of classic tracks of his uncle, the great J. B. Hutto, and, start to finish, there is not a dull moment of the whole album.

As usual the emphasis is on lively boogies and romping shuffles to keep the excitement levels high, interspersed with occasional heart-wrenching slow burners to offer variety and depth.

The album gets off to a rip-snorting start with Giving Up On Your Love, featuring Lil’ Ed’s soulful vocal delivery of a strong song ahead of a propulsive funky beat as supplied by fellow Blues Imperials - guitarist Michael Garrett, bassist James ‘Pookie’ Young and drummer Kelly Littlejohn. While it is Lil’ Ed’s vocals and searing slide guitar that tends to attract most of the attention across the album, the band are as tight as a duck’s proverbial nether regions and provide an endlessly rock solid platform for Lil’ Ed to strut his stuff.

By way of an example, check out I Like My Hot Sauce Cold, a superbly pulsating slab of slide-heavy boogie. Or get a load of Green Light Groove, a rollickingly busy little rocker that will no doubt have everybody on their feet when this gets played live.

Of the slower, broodier numbers, the highlight is perhaps the near-seven minute version of J.B. Hutto’s I’ll Cry Tomorrow. On this, Lil’ Ed demonstrates his masterful command of his slide, ramping the tension up and down as he delivers a heart-breaking performance of a gem of a song. Another tasty slow burner is his own Troubled World, where Lil’ Ed’s attention is diverted away from his own personal concerns to the troubles of the world today.

Most everywhere else though it is upbeat, bouncy and foot-tapping stuff all the way. Through Shy Voice (the other J.B Hutto cover included), Is It You?, Poor Man’s Song, Raining In Paris and all the rest, this is classy and classic slide-guitar-fuelled and funky Chicago blues of the highest order.

If you’ve yet to enjoy the band’s version of contemporary, raw and lively blues, this is as good a place as any to start. Highly recommended.

Review Date: October 2016

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