Barrelhouse Chuck/Detroit Junior/Erwin Helfer/Pinetop Perkins: 8 Hands on 88 Keys: Chicago Blues Piano Masters (2002)
The Chicago label The Sirens has been issuing (or reissuing, as the case might be) compilations of piano blues and Boogie Woogie by the Windy City's leading exponents of that pianistic art. The cuts on this album come from a November 2001 session when the label gathered these extraordinary artists in the studio and turned them loose. The result is almost 50 minutes of the blues as heavy or Boogie Woogie as syncopated as the Chicago versions of these genres can get. Perhaps the last gathering of this many top disciples of the music in a studio came in 1976 when the same label gathered Willie Mabon, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Walker, Blind John Davis and the same Erwin Helfer for a session recently reissued as Heavy Timbre - Chicago Boogie Piano. The members of this group play and sing individually or in duet with another member. On "Miss Ida B" Barrelhouse Chuck Goering sings while Detroit Junior plays' the 88's. Detroit Junior does his thing with blues favorite "Ain't Nobody's Business What I Do" to the accompaniment of pianist Erwin Helfer. Helfer's speciality is the Boogie Woogie as he so dazzlingly demonstrates on his composition"Stop Time Boogie" recalling the Chicago genius practitioners of that style, Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons. One of the top tracks is Detroit Junior's slurring version of "Staggerlee", the sad tale of what happens when there's disagreement on what the dice read in a crap game. The elder statesman of the group, Pinetop Perkins, appears on four cuts. He truly wrenches the heart and soul dry on "How Long Blues".
Every track on this album is a gem and serves to remind how this music can sound when played by those who were born with the music in their soul and in their hands. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: It's You Baby, Rooster's Blues - Barrelhouse Chuck Goering, piano/vocals; Pinetop's Blues - Barrelhouse Chuck Goering, vocal/Erwin Helfer, piano; Miss Ida B - Barrelhouse Chuck Goering, vocals/Detroit Junior, piano; I'm So Unhappy, Ella, Staggerlee - Detroit Junior, vocals/piano; Ain't Nobody's Business - Detroit Junior, vocals/Erwin Helfer, piano; Stop Time Boogie, 4 O'clock Blues - Erwin Helfer, piano; I Almost Lost My Mind - Pinetop Perkins, vocals/Erwin Helfer, piano; Grinder Man Blues, How Much More, How Long Blues - Pinetop Perkins - piano/vocals
Record Label: Sirens, The