Mac Arnold & Plate Full o' Blues,
Backbone & Gristle
(Plantation #1, 2007)

With Backbone & Gristle, Mac Arnold tells the story of how he, as a kid, built a guitar out of a tin can, a pickup and some wire and struggled with it until he could play the thing. Then he sings and plays a song using that guitar. It's a highlight on an album that has a bunch of highlights to it.

Arnold, who has been around the block a couple of times, has the kind of background movie stars would make up to use in interviews. When he was 16, he backed James Brown. Then he went to Chicago for a stint in Muddy Waters' band and spent some time with John Lee Hooker. He was a producer on Soul Train and a camera operator for ABC. He also did time as a session musician.

Now he's playing the blues again, and at the age of 65, has put out a CD fronting Plate Full o' Blues. All of his varied life experiences shaped him into a fine musician. He writes good songs, plays bass and guitar and sings in a gruff baritone that conveys the years accumulating the musicianship to pull all of this off. The level of musicianship amongst his band members is also high; they play a few instrumentals that cook, and Arnold spreads the solos around.

On "I Can Do Anything," Arnold implores us to "Listen to this old man."

That's good advice.

[ visit the artist online ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

17 April 2010

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