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Big George Brock - I Got To Keep My Bedroom Locked

13 Tracks. 61.05

England's Blues & Rhythm magazine called Big George's set at Clarksdale's 2004 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival "the real deal" and | have no reason to disagree. Mr Brock, now in his mid-seventies, has paid his dues, doing back-breaking manual labor in the fields around Clarksdale, MS, and in the boxing ring as a professional heavy-weight. All the while, he was learning about playing and singing the blues, mentored by McKinley Morganfield, who he first met in those same fields. Muddy Waters tried to get Brock, by then living in St Louis, a contract with Chess Records, but Brock and the company could not agree a royalties deal. Later he signed with Rodger Stolle’s Cat Head Records in Clarksdale where he has stayed ever since.

George is a harp man in the tradition of those who played with Muddy; hard with a down home edge, inventive and above all POWEFUL. Sweeping amplified harp played with lung-bursting panache and with all the grunts and throat noises that indicate a man lost in his musicianship.

This CD is a follow-up to Live At Seventy-Five - a recording of a live show made on his 75th Birthday - and his previous European success, Round Two. George comes at this one with all the flash and flair of what preceded it; known for his flamboyant stage clothes (pink, green, red), his harp work here is equally colorful.

The opener, a loping shuffle, is Watch Yourself (You better watch yourself, I got my eyes on you.) A great, start to this master-class CD. That is rapidly followed by So Many Times, the first appearance by Clarine Wagner on vocals fronting the band who are following a sensual rhythmic hook. Clarine is a fine singer and the guitar part on this track is exemplary. Clarine is also to the fore on Good Times Roll, (not the tune you are thinking of) which has an equally great guitar part, where Clarine shows her affinity with the roots of gospel and the preaching blues. George appears to have a backing singer role here.

George to the fore again on a the funky title track, a riff based work-out about having to lock the door to keep out a sex crazed woman – chance’d be a fine thing!

Hold That Cadillac is like a kind of tribute to Muddy and might have been one he would have recorded. Gypsy Woman is Muddy’s, Hoochie Koochie Man renamed (why change the name?).. Unfortunately, to my ears, George’s singing is a bit pitchy here and there. The harp playing is wonderful though.

Little Girl You Make Me Feel so God is a real stomper, worth the price of the CD alone, and the, somewhat hackneyed I Got My Mojo Working is another stomping Muddy tribute. There is a Wolf tribute too, with a nice version of Howling For My Darling. Finally, (Since I Laid My) Burden Down is a wonderful controlled rendition of the old gospel song with George joined by Clarine Wager. Magnificent .

Despite the occasional pitch problems in George’s singing, this one is strongly recommended. It is still The Real Deal.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie is a Brit, living in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly publication giving info on news, gigs and reviews of events and CDs for the south of England. Ian has two blues radio shows one broadcast on Phonic FM in the UK (12 noon Central, 6pm UK) on on Wednesdays and the second airing on KCOR (Kansas City On Line Radio) on Fridays (12 noon Central, 6pm UK)

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