If you like your blues loud and fast, you should love this sophomore effort from Mike Henderson and the Bluebloods, a Nashville-based band consisting of four great musicians who've spent most of their careers as country players.
Leader Mike Henderson is a highly capable slide guitarist, harpist, and singer, but the guy who makes this CD extra special is John Jarvis, an experienced piano man best known for his country session work and his New Age solo recordings. Like Reese Wynans on the Blueblood's 1997 debut, Jarvis's barrelhouse piano adds tremendous intensity to this rollicking release.
White guys who sing the blues always seem to take their knocks in the music press, and Mike Henderson is no exception. I read a couple of recent articles that slammed Henderson for trying too hard to sing like a black guy. To me these criticisms are unfair since Henderson's vocals are no less soulful than say, Stevie Ray Vaughn's. Moreover, his guitar work sizzles and his harp is just plain lowdown.
Another nice touch is the standup bass played by Glenn Worf. Worf's instrument lends a rawness to the Bluebloods' sound, and the bassist forms a tight partnership with drummer John Gardner.
Henderson and company get your blood boiling right out of the gate with "Keep What You Got," an old boogie stomp written by Stanley Lewis. "I Need Me a Car" has a funky New Orleans feel, while "Scared That Child" rocks out with honky-tonk intensity. Other fast tracks include "Uranium Rock" and "Angel of Mercy," and the latter features some scorching guitar work by Henderson. Covers of tunes by Sonny Boy Williamson ("Mister Downchild") and Howlin' Wolf ("My Sugar Mama") are rough and righteous.
Henderson and the Bluebloods play the kind of wild country blues that I like to hear on Friday nights after a tough week at work. It's raucous, ass-kickin' stuff.