Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Blues, Pop
Harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite falls between the more obvious generations of blues players, younger than its elder statesmen but considerably senior to young hot-shots like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. How, then... more »
Harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite falls between the more obvious generations of blues players, younger than its elder statesmen but considerably senior to young hot-shots like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. How, then, can he find a fresh hook to his music without resorting to attention-grabbing gimmicks? Except for two songs featuring producer/guitarist Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Charlie Musselwhite's 1997 album, Rough News, doesn't have any famous guests, but it stands out from the harmonica whiz's long and deep discography nonetheless. Musselwhite has pared down his sound so radically that every instrument has become a rhythm instrument. When these lean, groove-based arrangements are applied to tunes as simple and catchy as "Both Sides of Fence," "I Sat & Cried" and "Natural Born Lover," the results jump at the listener with the bare-basics excitement of early rock & roll. Musselwhite displays his elegant command of the mouth harp on two instrumental standards, "Sleepwalk" and "Harlem Nocturne," but the highlights are the songs where the simplicity of the material and the masterfulness of the musicians bring the best out in each other. --Geoffrey Himes
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Rough and Ready: The Mastery of Charlie Musselwhite
M. Allen Greenbaum | California | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prolific and prodigiously talented, Charlie Musselwhite has long been a master of Chicago blues harp. Here, his buzz-saw amped harmonica cuts its way through around and over 11 great cuts--mostly "over," because Musselwhite's solos are a thing of beauty that deserve center stage. Here he shows his range and mastery of the idiom. While he captures the big sound of urban blues prototypes Little Walter and James Cotton, Musselwhite blends these traditions with his own stamp.
The songs sound more personal (think Robert Cray), eschewing some of the more tired blues themes. Yet, unlike some of Cray's efforts, Musselwhite is not trying to reinvent the blues into something more palatable; he keeps--he insists on keeping the rough-edged sound that makes this music so aurally and even viscerally powerful. From the fun "Both Sides of the Fence," with its frat-boy vocal chorus to the magnificently raw, vintage sound of his solo guitar, harp, and vocals on Clarksdale Boogie, this album is an outstanding combination of urban and the more pared down rural blues. Musselwhite's voice is a little on the thin side, but that just fits with the personal themes and the spare sound of the music, and for longtime fans like myself, there's an authenticity here that's more powerful than the slick productions that think the blues need reinventing (unfortunately this time, think Cray again--at least some of his work). Refreshing, gritty, powerful, and very enjoyable, I recommend this with a serving of John Hammond's "WIcked Grin" on the side."
More great Charlie!
Love Cross | Boise, Idaho | 02/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1997 album is one of my favorite Charlie Musselwhite releases. From the first cut "Both Sides of the Fence" to the title track "Rough News", the songs flow from one to the next without missing a beat. The blend of deep-blues music, with the more upbeat and rockin' tempo's make for a great combination. This one has stayed in my CD player for days at a time! Charlie is truly one who is "KEEPIN' THE BLUES ALIVE"."