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Louisiana Red & Little Victor’s Juke Joint – Memphis Mojo

Ruf Records

12 tracks; 44.28 minutes

Iverson Minter has been recording under his stage name of Louisiana Red for many years and has resided in Germany for the last 30 years. Over his career he has produced more than 50 albums but perhaps had his greatest success with the 2009 CD “Back To The Black Bayou” which was nominated for the traditional blues album category at the 2010 BMAs. The day after the awards Red went into a Memphis studio and recorded this follow-up which, if anything, is even more stripped back than its predecessor. Most of the team who played on “Back To The Black Bayou” are reunited: Little Victor plays guitar, produced the album and co-wrote two of the songs; Alex Petterson plays drums throughout; bass duties are shared between Mookie Brill and Bill Troiani; Bob Corritore plays harmonica on five tracks, David Maxwell piano on four tracks and ‘The Hawk’ plays maraccas or guitar on five.

Red lived for a while in Arizona and was at that time a regular at Bob Corritore’s club in Phoenix and Bob provides the sleevenotes which explain how the recording came about.

All but one of the tracks are originals, with a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”. The music is traditional blues, with Red’s gruff vocals conveying all the classic themes of the blues; troubles, death, problems with alcohol and/or women, etc are all present and correct: those whose tastes veer towards the rock end of the spectrum will find no guitar heroics here! Red has played with almost every major bluesman over the course of the last 50 years or so and follows his own muse, strongly influenced by the likes of Muddy Waters (check out Red’s slide on “Your Lovin’ Man” for instance). Final track “Grandmother’s Death” is a slow blues on a possibly autobiographical theme, with Corritore’s baleful harp accentuating the sad theme.

In fact there is quite a lot of sad blues here, as can be seen from titles like “I’m Getting’ Tired” and “I Had Troubles All My Life”! “Boogie Woogie Boogie” and “Just Take Your Time” are more upbeat tunes with nice interplay between the two guitars of Little Victor and ‘The Hawk’ and some sprightly piano form David Maxwell. However, most of the album is taken at a slower pace which arguably suits Red’s voice better as he sounds a little strained on the faster numbers. Certainly his voice is clearer on a gentle blues like “So Long, So Long” where Red’s slide meets Corritore’s harp on a song that namechecks the late Jack Johnson as Red reminisces about trips to Clarksdale.

I think that this CD will be a successful follow-up to “Back To The Black Bayou”. Whether it gathers more BMA nominations we will only be able to judge next May but if solid, traditional blues is your blues of choice this is bound to be a winner.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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