Spearheaded by this long-time linchpin of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, on Blues and Boogie Vol. 1, a group of musicians as versatile as they are empathetic tackles classics from Little Walter, Elmore James and others. Kim Wilson and the ensemble not only display innate knowledge of its roots, but that elusive joy derived from actively honoring same. While the monaural recording seems an overreach to authenticityit the genuine quality of the music, the financial aspect of the project or a combination of both?there's no denying the impact from the very beginning of the leader's original "Bonus Boogie."
While there's no question Kim Wilson takes this music seriously, he's not averse to revealing the humor at the heart of songs such as Sonny Boy Williamson's "Ninety-Nine." And it's important to note that, in juxtaposing that number with "Worried Life Blues," he's making the point that despair is the mirror image of the lighthearted. Accordingly, the sound of his harmonica there is at once doleful and cheerful, like the pairing of those tracks and, by extension, the blues itself.
Over the course of sixteen (!) tracks, the sequencing of familiar numbers such as John Lee Hooker's "Same Old Blues" and Lightning Hopkins' "Mean Old Frisco" (both rendered familiar as covered by Eric Clapton, the former on Behind the Sun (Warner Bros., 1985) and the latter on Slowhand (RSO, 1977) contributes almost as much to the flow of Blues and Boogie Vol. 1 as the changes of pace wrought by tempo and arrangement. For instance, neither the piano nor slide guitar so prevalent within the genre is so prominent here as at approximately the mid-point of the record on "Searched All Over:" the inevitable inclusion doesn't render their appearance any less refreshing, either in the context of the album or in regard to this single cut.
With the likes of Elmore James' "Sho Nuff I Do" residing comfortably next to Kim Wilson's own "Learn to Treat Me Right," Blues and Boogie Vol.1 is ultimately as suitable for a soundtrack to a dance party as an academic treatise on one of America's elemental musics. Neither lightweight nor somber to a fault, it has the potential to be as interactive for those who hear it as the musicians who recorded it.
Bonus Boogie; No Love In My Heart; Ninety Nine; Worried Life Blues; You Upset My Mind; Teenage Beat; Same Old Blues; Searched All Over; From The Bottom; Look Whatcha Done; Blue And Lonesome; Sho Nuff I Do; Learn to Treat Me Right; Edgier; Mean Old Frisco; You’re the One.
Kim Wilson: vocals, harmonica; Larry Taylor: bass; Troy Sandow: bass; Kadar Roy: bass; Barrelhouse Chuck: piano; Billy Flynn: guitar; Bob Welsh: guitar; Big Jon Atkinson: guitar; Nathan James: guitar; Marty Dodson: drums; Malachi Johnson: drums; Richard Innes: drums, Jonny Viau: horns.
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