At 66 years young, Milton Campbell can still get it done, both with his voice and his guitar. Welcome to Little Milton is one of those celebrities-meet-bluesman collaborations designed to give wider recognition to a deserving veteran artist. The album is named after a sign on the outskirts of an English hamlet that coincidentally bears Little Milton's name.
Despite all the big-name guests, Milton's star shines brightest here. Guests include Southern blues-rockers Government Mule, hip hoppers G. Love & Special Sauce, rocker Peter Wolf, blues up-and-comers Susan Tedeschi and Keb’ Mo’, plus roots stars Dave Alvin, Lucinda Williams and Delbert McClinton. Except for the ill-advised hip-hop track with G. Love & Special Sauce, all of the songs here are enjoyable, and a couple are outstanding.
With the Muscle Shoals Horns and a talented band of session players providing high-octane backup, Milton and friends deliver a slick but soulful reading of Southern blues, R&B and roots rock. Especially good is Milton’s duet with the talented Tedeschi on "Mother Earth." Tedeschi’s vocals are electrifying on this ageless song made famous by Magic Sam. Equally good is Roy Orbison’s classic "Love Hurts," performed with Lucinda Williams. Both singers inject the perfect dose of world-weary emotion into this pop standard. Another notable track is Milton’s lengthy collaboration with Government Mule on Willie Dixon’s slow-blues number "I Can’t Quit You Baby." The ever-adaptable Milton shows he could have made it as a Southern blues-rocker.
Although Milton's latest is not quite on a par with some of his vintage stuff, it’s still a welcome addition to any blues collection. Welcome may well inspire Little Milton neophytes to check out his early sides on Sun, Chess and Stax. For starters I recommend Sun Masters and Welcome to the Club.