Originally released over 25 years ago, Beans Taste Fine really hasn't lost its flavor. In fact, Papa John Kolstad's blues seem more in tune with the acoustic blues revival spurred on by Corey Harris and Guy Davis. In many ways, however, Kolstad's method is more straightforward than many practitioners who followed him. Just a bluesman, a friend or two, and a handful of good songs evoke the bluesy ragtime spirit of the Roaring Twenties. Most prominent in the mix are Kolstad's vocals and 12-string guitar, along with the harmonica of Wildman Mike Turk. There's a jumped-up version of John Koerner's "Takin' My Time" and a funky take on "Born in the Desert" (aka "Minglewood Blues," aka "New Minglewood Blues"). Shel Silverstein's "Beans Taste Fine" serves as the delicious title track, and a couple of Fats Waller tunes keep the overall mood happy despite the presence of one hellbound song by Robert Johnson. Fuller arrangements on "Viper Drag" and George Gershwin's "Oh Lady Be Good" work to great effect, creating something akin to what the Hot Club of France might have sounded like if the harmonica had replaced the fiddle. Three live bonus tracks sweeten the package, making its purchase an easy choice for acoustic blues fans. Kolstad's fine vocals and guitar work may not convince everyone that beans do, in fact, taste fine, but he will persuade listeners of the persistent power of the blues.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.