Bluesman Boo Boo Davis is pretty much the closest we now have to one of the originals. Born in Mississippi, he has actual experience of working the clubs of the Delta. His father, also a blues musician, played with the esteemed likes of John Lee Hooker and Elmore James and Boo Boo remembers such luminaries being around the house when he was young.
The blues is in his DNA and this, his fifth album for Black and Tan Records, sees him on fine form, playing, as he has since 2008, in a stripped back trio format. It’s joyously blues…pure blues. Which is rare these days – no embellishments, no nods to anything remotely modern and, thankfully, no blues rock (which, if we’re brutally honest, is usually just rock with a token acoustic slide intro).
Davis, although also a guitarist, is primarily a harp player and his distorted wailing heralds the arrival of lead track, ‘Dirt Road’. It’s minimal, gritty and totally authentic – there are shades of Muddy and RL Burnside to Davis’ vocals and the guitar has a nice, Stonesy feel, the band hitting a flawless, long practised groove.
Groove. Groove is vital to this album. Songs are mostly frameworks, licks, jams, erm…grooves around which Davis adds buried-in-the-mix vocals and harp flourishes – usually ending with a lazy jam which, if freed from the confines of the studio, you expect would go on for several hours.
Most of these riffs are as old as the blues itself but when they’re essayed this well – hey, who cares. There are 12 bar blues, slow blues, fast blues and subtle variations thereof. ‘Oh Baby’ (see above) has lonesome harp atop swampy guitar and muffled, metallic slide while ‘She Won’t Call Me On The Telephone’ hits the ground at runaway train momentum. Thunderous and abandoned, it’s 100% blues but as riotous as Jon Spencer or any avant garde NY noise terrorist, as relentless as prime Motorhead.
‘Bring My Baby Back Home’ is pure RnB, Brian Jones would have been in its thrall. There is also a definite Creedence delta swampiness to several tracks while John Lee Hooker returns in spirit with the dialogue led narrative of ‘Chocolate’. Final track ‘I’m Getting Old’ is taken at an ironically sprightly pace – a fearlessly bluesy take on mortality with added wah-wah, there’s no kicking of buckets yet for these dudes.
This is a fine, rough edged, real blues album. It’s produced beautifully, recorded well with a genuine live-in-the-studio feel (with occasional chatter when songs end) and no new fangled trickery or knob twiddling (fnarr). It’s the blues folks, played from the heart with dirt under the fingernails. What you hear is what you get and long may we get blues of this quality and class. *drops the bullet mic
Reviewed by Gary Cordwell
Released in February 2018 by Black and Tan Records
- Dirt Road
- Big House All By Myself #2
- Stay Out All Night Long
- She Won’t Call Me On The Telephone
- Oh Baby
- Bring My Baby Back Home
- Tree Man
- What The Blues Is All About
- What’s The Matter With You Baby
- I’m Getting Old