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John Primer - Blues On Solid Ground

Blues House Productions


The first time I heard John Primer’s guitar playing was on Lester “Mad Dog” Davenport’s “When The Blues Hit You” CD. He was a long time member of Magic Slim And The Teardrops and played with many of the founding fathers of the electric blues. He has electric blues guitar down pat. I bought his “All Original” CD and found it to be good, but nothing earth-shattering. On his latest CD the opening song, is an upbeat track “Hiding Place” that kicks things off nicely with his electric slide playing. From then on except for two songs it’s acoustic guitar with varying numbers of backup musicians. His acoustic playing is fine and this has a down home charm to it, but the subjects are the usual blues clichés about his baby leaving him, loneliness, how he met the blues, how crazy he is about his baby, etc.. The lyrics have little social conscience and aren’t up-to-date. Primer has a strong and resonant blues voice. You can’t go wrong with the band, especially Barrel House Chuck on piano, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums and Russ Green harmonica. His idea for this CD was to keep the blues tradition alive for future generations by composing new blues songs rooted in the traditional styles.

“Hiding Place” is blues ensemble playing at its best. He sounds uncannily like Muddy Waters in voice and song style on “Take Care Of Me”. His acoustic guitar playing and Russ Green’s powerful harmonica move the song along nicely. The title song features just his acoustic guitar and piano, sounding much like a modern day Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr, and it is a soul-satisfying tribute to the blues. The full band with electric and acoustic guitar are used to good effect on “Power Of Attorney”. Russ Green’s harp shines once again on “Crazy For My Baby” it complements the acoustic guitar in an old-fashioned back porch rave up. “Happy Blues” is just what the title implies, a joyous blues-romp between acoustic, electric slide and harmonica. Finally a song of unity in helping the less fortunate in “Poor Man Blues”, that closes the record out with a full-blown band send-off featuring good slide work ala Elmore James.

This record works fine in a laid back lazy day kind of way. The expertise of Russ Green and Barrel House Chuck blend well with the guitar of vocal skills of John. Nothing new here, but this sounds authentic in the hands of this standard-bearer of the blues. I still hope he dishes up his signature electric blues for his next effort.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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