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Dave Riley and Bob Corritore - Lucky to Be Living

Blue Witch Records

10 tracks

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore have come out with their second album together after an acclaimed inaugural effort. “Travelin’ the Dirt Road”, their 2007 release, was nominated for the 2008 Blues Music Award for Acoustic Album of the Year and was a Blues Blast Music Award Nominee for Best Traditional Blues Recording. There is no sophomore jinx with this CD as it builds upon the great music and firm foundation between these two artists.

Riley offers us some down home vocal work and understated yet gripping guitar work. Corritore’s harp provides a superb compliment for Riley’s vocals and fretwork. I am becoming more and more impressed with what Bob is doing with his harp as he moves into the realm of being a long-time and well-respected bluesman. Both Riley and Corritore offer true love and appreciation for the blues in approaching their music without being over the top in their style. From the opening chords of the first track I was hooked on this great approach to traditional blues.

Riley upholds the great traditions of the Jelly Roll Kings, of which he became a member of in the mid 1990’s. This album pays homage to them as Riley covers and reworks several of their songs along with offering us four new and original tracks. The first song “Jelly Roll King” is a Frank Frost number that Dave has redone the lyrics to and pays tribute to Frost, John Weston and Sam Carr. Sam Carr who recently passed away was the last surviving member of the Jelly Roll Kings that Riley sings about, making this track somewhat sad, but one can revel in the friendship and love expressed by Riley’s reworking of this song.

Henry Gray and Chris James provide some great solo work on the second track, “Ride with Your Daddy Tonight”. Another Frost tune, Riley and Corritore blast their way through this number to a heart pounding beat.

“On My Way” takes a Gospel melody line that Corritore came up with along with Riley’s lyrics; it was turned into a cool little fast paced number. Dave’s gravelly vocals and Bob’s harmonica chugs punctuate this song nicely.

The next track returns to a homage to those who have passed. Frank Frost’s tune becomes the album’s title track and the slow wailing harmonica and Riley’s vocals really serve to testify to their luck to be living. The boys then revisit their last album with “Back Down the Dirt Road”, a song they came up with as they rehearsed to lay down the other tracks for this CD. It was so good that it had to be included and they certainly have done right in including it. Dave’s inspired vocals and aside conversations make this a great piece.

Henry Gray returns to the keys to support “Let’s Get Together” as Corritore pleases the listener with a big harp solo. Dave’s “Country Rules” follows, a catchy song that Dave sells with his Delta inspired vocals. They return to Frost’s library of songs and rearrange “The Things You Do” in an inspired manner. The harp work in the upper register is sweet and poignant as is Riley’s guitar and singing.

The next to last track features Dave getting deep, down and dirty as he winds his way into the darkest blues on the CD. His guitar work rings like a bell as Corritore fills in his greasy harp along with Dave’s intense vocals; this IS the blues! Riley closes out with Fred James song “Automobile” that he originally covered many years ago on a Helena compilation. Henry Gray and Chris James are on this track; their piano and guitar really add to the sound. Corritore opens with and fills in some great harp, too, but Riley’s vocals are what make this song and the album a big success.

If you liked their prior album, then this release is for you! If you didn’t like their last album you might not be impressed, but I would have to say that just don’t like good blues music if you can’t appreciate the musical love affair between Dave Riley and Bob Corritore on their first two albums. With chemistry like these guys have, I can’t wait for their next offering!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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