Danny Kalb

I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About

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Danny Kalb was the bluesiest member of the Blues Project, the seminal Greenwich Village band of the mid-'60s that helped usher in the blues-rock era. A stunning guitarist, he was among the first to apply the hallmarks of then-emerging psychedelia to American roots music, alternately reeling off demonically speedy, blood-curdling, razor sharp electric solos and deeply penetrating, gutbucket Delta licks that could have come from the masters themselves -- if they'd come of age in New York City in the '60s rather than Mississippi in the '30s. He also masterfully incorporated elements of jazz, folk, and soul but Kalb barely had a chance to stake his claim as an innovator when the core band split up after three albums, and he was largely forgotten except by a small hardcore group of admirers. In the ensuing decades Kalb's output has been minimal but I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About offers ample proof that his talent and love for the blues remain intact. Naturally, it's not as electrically charged as the Blues Project was, and it doesn't try to be as eclectic. This is more subtle and no-frills, Danny Kalb simply doing what he loves to do and does best: playing and singing classic blues. While there are a few original tunes here, and they are fine efforts, it's his remakes of staples like the opening "I Wish You Would" (Billy Boy Arnold), "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover" (Willie Dixon), "Samson & Delilah" "If I Had My Way" (Rev. Gary Davis), and "Shake Sugaree" (Elizabeth Cotten) that provide the key moments here. Alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, and working primarily with bassist Bob Jones and drummer Mark Ambrosino, Kalb's playing and singing is enthusiastic and refined, straightforward but still quite inventive. His vocals are arguably better than they were in his younger days. And he still has vision: the title track, a gospel tune by Thomas A. Dorsey, is given a slow blues treatment that may remind old fans of the Blues Project's take on "Two Trains Running," while Little Richard's rocking "Slippin' and Slidin'," a highlight of the album, is toned down and converted into an acoustic shuffle that casts a whole new light on it. Danny Kalb may never receive the historical due he is truly owed, but this set leaves no doubt that the guy's still got it.

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