Joe Carter

Mean & Evil Blues

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Joe Carter's lone recorded effort for the tiny Barrelhouse label remains to this day one of the great lost blues albums of the ‘70s, if not at the top of the list. On the surface, its content could not be more at odds with the standard blues album of that decade; a two guitars-drums-no bass combo running through a set of Chicago staples largely plucked from the repertoires of Muddy Waters and Elmore James, minus any modern embellishments, recorded in studio environs that could best be described as crude. But the intensity and emotional commitment radiates off of Carter like laser beams on every single track, making the starkness of this album all the more appealing. With a guitar tone from his massive Epiphone hollow body that cuts like a knife coupled with a voice that wavers between phlegmatic, stentorian and utterly agonized (the second verse of "Treat Me the Way You Do"), Carter creates a mood on these sides so loaded with ambience that the listener is immediately sucked in from beginning to end. As real as any Hound Dog Taylor Alligator album of the period minus the good time slant, this is eerie, late-night, juke-joint music of the highest order. Currently MIA on compact disc (as of press time), its non-appearance is one of the great tragedies of the reissue field, considering the dearth of lesser albums from this period being re-released. Needless to say, its appearance in any form is a worthwhile addition to any blues collection.