Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell are two of the most well-known members of the younger generation of Chicago blues players. The amount of homework, hard work and just plain dues-paying that both of these guys have gone through is evident in their playing. As this CD demonstrates quite well, the Chicago blues tradition is being tended to by capable hands.
So for those who love that blues sound, and who might want to hear it filtered through younger souls, this is an interesting CD to check out. All the requisite ingredients are there, even if there’s nothing particularly outstanding or head-turning. The liner notes refer to the wide range of influences that have taken hold of the younger generation of blues players in Chicago such as funk, rock and other, more hard-driving forms of music. But there is scant evidence of those influences on this recording.
For blues purists, this will probably come as welcome news. That’s fine. The debate about how far is too far to stray from the root will probably continue for quite some time. But just keep this in mind: Nobody can out-Muddy Muddy Waters, and what made the greats great was that they were the originals of their day.
Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.