Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Blues on the Moon - Live at Natural Rhythm Social Club
Genres: Blues, Pop
Listen to Samples
Edgy, rough, and raw
Denis | NJ, USA | 08/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Byther Smith is a real blues hero from Chicago, one of the most hard-working and original blues warriors still alive. Still, he remains severely underrated, despite incendiary albums that overflow with intensity, originality, remarkable blues guitar solos, and immediately recognizable vocals.
Blues on the Moon is Byther Smith's most recent release and a fully live recording. Mr. Smith, aka Smitty, honors his reputation for the trademark intensity, and in that sense this release is uncompromising. He covers his most popular tunes on this live outing, and he certainly seems to hit the audience pretty hard with his blues, judging by a very enthusiastic reception. It's difficult to tell whether he connects with this audience by a virtue of his raw and in-your-face lyrics (that don't always rhyme) or the very candid, authentic, and stripped down approach to the blues. Whatever it is, you can hear the audience clapping, yelling, and shouting encouragements.
If you heard his excellent "Addressing the Nation with the Blues" or "Mississippi Kid", you are likely to recognize many of those tunes here, reworked. Since his studio recordings often employ complex rhythmic patterns and intricate overlays, it is not easy to imitate them live with a mediocre backing band. Indeed, this record lacks the polish of his studio releases and can be rather rough around the edges, but that is mostly due to the backing band rather than Smitty's own mishaps.
He is very ambitious when it comes to singing and prefers to flirt with pretty high notes, belting out his emotions like they come. More often than not, he hits the notes he wants perfectly and impressively. On the first track, however, - "Judge of Honor" - he may have still been warming up.
While the backing band is sometimes a little inconsistent in quality and not always tight, Smitty himself is consistent and could in fact take on his blues by himself on stage, in my opinion. For an aging bluesman, he delivers an eyebrow-raising performance, complete with detailed vocals and juicy guitar solos that are nice and precise. The band is excellent on some of the tunes that are closer to the rock territory, but on the somewhat more raw blues where Smitty employs some intricacies, they seem to be having a hard time catching up to Smitty. But they always do in the end, so it doesn't ruin the record... Just a minor note.
In the end, this is still very much an enjoyable record, as well as satisfying. Smitty's energy is beyond his years, and he gets the joint jumping.
If you are just making acquaintances with the excellent blues of Byther Smith, I recommend you to begin with "Addressing the Nation With the Blues", "Hold That Train", "Mississippi Kid", or "I'm a Mad Man" - probably in that order."