various artists,
The Future of Blues
(Northern Blues, 2002)

OK, I know blues men have a sense of humor, a real funny sense of humor. To be able to come up with words like "it must be jelly because jam don't shake like that" -- well, it doesn't sound bad until you realize he's singing to his woman. "Girl I love you all over, but I like your big ole behind" might make for good rhythm and somehow or other the smooth delivery of Johnny Jones even makes it sound like a compliment. There's great music on this first cut if I ignore the words!

The CD follows with a wide variety of blues personalities showing their stuff. Harry Manx does "Don't Forget to Miss Me," a soft little song that comes from his Wise & Otherwise album, and "Lay Down My Worries" from Dog My Cat, which was a soft version as well. But good as he was, I'm not sure this was the right compilation CD to accent his style. And then the mood swings back to the heat of smoky dance halls with the husky voice of Rita Chiarelli singing "Woman in Blue." She's good here, but I know she can do better, much better.

The CD goes on to showcase Paul Reddick & the Sidemen, and they sure do have modern urban sound and fine upbeat dance music. Though Reddick's quick and ready, I like my blues heavy and smooth, like the next guy who steps up to the mike, Otis Taylor, a dream of a bluesman, singing "My Soul's in Louisiana."

Archie Edward's cut was taped in 1986, just one voice and one guitar in "Sittin' on Top of the World," and he sounds like he's having a good time. He sure can play and some of that finger stuff just brings up gooseflesh, it's so pure and clear. "Baby, Please Give Me a Break" actually seems to have blasts of fresh air in the hesitations. I'm going looking for both albums featuring Edwards, The Toronto Sessions and The Toronto Sessions 2.

When Otis Taylor does the next cut, "Live Your Life," I'm back in dreamland again flowing with his voice, so smooth and sleepy, raspy and deep like the guitar. David Jacob-Strain carries a sense of urgency in "River Was Green." His voice and guitar playing are astounding and I'm going to be searching for more of the same from him.

Brian Blain brings blues into the computer age with a jazzy, fun little piece with a Jerry Lee Lewis piano style. I liked the JW-Jones Blues Band, whose "Jump Tonight" was better than their "Defilibratin'," which I found too technical.

This CD can direct you toward some new (and old sounds) because the liner notes tell what album the cuts are taken from and that was the main purpose of the recording. That also meant it was fairly frustrating not to be able to hear more music of the artists I really liked. It left me wanting more ... so I guess it served its purpose.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 12 April 2003