JOE TURNER The Real Boss Of The Blues
This was originally recorded in 1969 and released on Bob Thiele’s Bluestime label. Presumably also, before Joe became ‘Big’. All eight original tracks are on here, plus a couple of live ones. Thiele put together a crack band, the rhythm section included drummer Paul Humphrey, bassist Max Bennett and guitarist Louie Shelton. Tom Scott added tenor sax and Turner sang lead vocals. It has to be said that at the time, this collection of covers and new tracks wasn’t a commercial success, tending to pass both music lovers and critics by. The years roll back from the off with Shake Rattle & Roll, a number one single for Joe fifteen years previously. At the heart of the arrangement’s success are the horns and Joe’s despairing vocals as he gives a classic track a (then) modern makeover. Accompanied by rasping horns, rumbling bass and tasty guitar, blues and rock combine on the melancholy Lonesome Train, Joe’s vocal a fusion of drama and sadness. Corrine, Corrina is driven along by a harmonica, piano and rhythm section, a blistering slice of electric blues. Slow and moody best describes Joe’s take on How Long, How Long Blues, just a bass, guitar, stabs of guitar, before Thiele cleverly introduces brass. The rhythm section takes charge of Careless Love from the off. Joe’s vocal is both frustrated and angry and with the band locked in a tight groove, the horns are unleashed, really lifting the track. Joe’s vocal on Two Loves I Have is not unlike Van Morrison to be fair. Just like Van the man, he grabs the song and lives it. With it’s much more contemporary sound it’s a highlight. Honey Hush, perhaps one of Joe’s better known songs and here the song takes on new life. A meandering harmonica (possibly George Smith) helps propel the arrangement along. The rest of the band provide the heartbeat, but it’s the harmonica, Joe’s vocal and a blistering sax solo that are the highlight. Lee Chandler’s Plastic Man is a ten minute contemporary blues track and closes the studio part of the disc. Pulsating bass, drums, bluesy harmonica and guitar envelope Joe’s vocal on this slow, moody track. With the horns joining in later on, this turns out to be a wonderful jam, where each musician proves his worth. All in all a great example of how the blues were back in the day.