Junior Kimbrough And The Soul Blues Boys, All Night Long

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The most evil blues man you’ll ever meet.

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.