A friend who once accompanied me to Kimbrough's Mississippi juke joint, where this live album was recorded, subsequently pronounced the music "evil," meaning it as a compliment. Though Junior's mesmerizing blues isn't literally evil, it's more than merely "dark" because he sometimes violated one of the prime rules of blues: rather than stating his worst ordeals and fears so he could transcend them, he seemed to revel in them. But the sheer, relentless repetition of Junior's one-chord grooves — interrupted by startling solo embellishments that bite like a poisonous snake, along with a shattered voice that's paradoxically almost sweet — is exhilarating. From the brutal rape fantasy of the title song (where his unclear stance arouses wildly conflicted feelings) to the lusty "All Night Long," the country cry of "Meet Me in the City" to the pained plea of "Done Got Old," Kimbrough creates a visceral, nightmare world that traps listeners in order to set them free.
By John Morthland on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Kimbrough, who made his first album (though not his first sides) in 1992 and died in 1998, is the most galvanizing — and menacing — of the recently-discovered Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen; he played with...
By Marc Hogan on 03.07.11 in Spotlights
File Under: From raw, gutbucket blues to soul, rock and pop with a similar unspoiled spirit Flagship Acts: R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Solomon Burke, the Black Keys, Andrew Bird, Band of Horses, Dinosaur Jr., Wav...
By John Morthland on 03.24.10 in Six Degrees
It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirat...
By John Morthland on 12.01.04 in Spotlights
Hip-hop blues seems like a natural. With all the open spaces in a good piece of blues music, wouldn't a little scratching fit right in? And the way the great blues singers repeat a line over and over until they've squeez...