1/14/2021

Blues Review: Junior Wells-Blues Brothers

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: 2020 Cleopatra Blues

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The blues is quite possibly THE genre that is one-hundred percent raw emotion. Given its title, not only is it a solemn color, but it also represents intensity and how the artist might harness that intensity to symbolize their hurt or sorrow. Junior Wells, a pioneer in his time, spent over 40 years crafting his style and paving the way with a “blues-harp” style. This newly remastered collection of Wells’ recordings along with some of the greatest blues guitarists of our current generation. Blues Brothers is a grand ode to the talent and legacy that sadly Junior Wells left for us in 1998.

“Blues Hit Big Town” is a calm introduction that allows the listener to sway into the beat of the music and get them acquainted with the vocal stylings of Mr. Wells. It sets the table for what awaits the listener throughout the record. Sliding into the next track, the fun commences with a jive-sounding, tongue-in-cheek, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” which is a funky bass-induced piece.

“Messin’ With the Kid” sounds like old times, trying to tune radios to the right station to avoid the most static. But, that static and raspiness is what brings the element of flashback and former city-street vibe of jazz and big-band, bluesy culture. “Scratch My Back” starts off sounding very much like the wild-wild-west but, then progresses into a lively and exciting dialogue, while at the same time keeping steady with a mid-tempo vibe to try to entice his love interest in a little bit of a rendezvous of sorts.

We come back down as listeners a bit, as “Worried Life Blues” acts as the bridge between the first and second half of the album. Wells is clearly swooning over someone either he had or someone of whom has since departed from his life in some capacity. Picking up the rear of track five, “When the Cat’s Gone” is a slick, short,  fun song that brings up the imagery… at least to me, of Tom and Jerry. “Lovey Dovey” is a pure, feel-good moment in the record that reminds us that the blues, while often dealing with sorrow or hurt, has its moments of complete opposite effect in positivity. Rather, it just utilizes the same technique as it’s somber counterparts.

“You Got to Love Her with a Feeling” might be the lowest point of the record as it seems to be the most traditional style of blues rhythm and overall tone. “Two-Headed Woman” is a rush of questioning the singer questioning the woman in his life because of her split personality but, he puts up with it because to him “there’s nothing we can do about it. “Snatch It Back” is a snappy jive that sounds much like a 60s dance move or that of which the song might be a dance number through the entire song.

Upon the end of the album, “You Don’t Care” is a dismissive song of used-to-be friends or partners of what sounds to be like a disagreement or cheating scandal between them gone wrong. With both parties telling each other off, adhering to their motives and feelings alone, they “don’t care” how the other person now is dealing with the aftermath. “It’s a Man Down There” is alluding to how the singer perceives that another man might be living amongst the underworld because of a nefarious deed. But, he just doesn’t know for certain if it is.

“Hoodoo Man Blues” is a nice wind-down song to end out the album. It is an overall instrumental piece that soothes the listener’s ear. The track’s sudden divergent rifts within points of the song provide a little jolt of excitement within the overall relaxation of the piece.

Key Tracks include: “Two Headed Woman,”Messin’ With the Kid,” “It’s A Man Down There.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 12, 2021

Track Listing:

01. Blues Hit Big Town (feat. Colin James)
02. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (feat. Pat Travers)
03. Messin’ With the Kid (feat. Tyler Bryant)
04. Scratch My Back (feat. Albert Castiglia)
05. Worried Life Blues (feat. Mike Zito & James Montgomery)
06. When the Cat’s Gone (feat. Harvey Mandel)
07. Lovey Dovey (feat. Eric Gales)
08. You Gotta Love Her with a Feeling (feat. Kirk Fletcher)
09. Two Headed Woman (feat.Guitar Shorty)
10. Snatch It Back and Hold (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
11. You Don’t Care (feat. Popa Chubby)
12. It’s A Man Down There (feat. Bernard Allison)
13. Hoodoo Man Blues (feat. Joe Louis Walker)

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