Junior Kimbrough’s guitar was a crafty snake, his voice a simultaneous growl and wail, just like the soul of any man. Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough celebrates his life through artists who understand that rawness, that immediacy, even if they know they’ll never fully divine where the man’s power came from. Fat Possum’s newer voices are here, from a mournful Black Keys on “My Mind is Rambling” to Thee Shams connecting Kimbrough to the Stones on “Release Me” to the Heartless Bastards moaning “Done Got Old” so loud hell can hear. Iggy and the Stooges (with Mike Watt on bass) turn in two corrosive versions of “You Better Run,” and you just might, ’cause it’s a scary song. Elsewhere, Spiritualized and Outrageous Cherry walk in a bleary stupor through a battered side door, and Mark Lanegan continues his transformation into a zombie bluesy daywalker with a throat-rattling prowl through “All Night Long.” “Girl the way you love/Make me speak in tongues …” This is Kimbrough’s music — his original, unsympathetic take on Delta blues, reread by the Fiery Furnaces, Cat Power and the Ponys for a time when folk, blues and garage are recombining in captivating and visceral ways. It’s not Junior, but Sunday Nights makes no apologies. It just tears off your scab and offers a cigarette to cauterize the wound.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].