Various Artists

Blues Across America: The Nashville Scene

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Produced by songwriter-guitar wizard Fred James, this entry in Cannonball's Blues Across America series focuses on the bluesy and R&B side of Music City, U.S.A. The set kicks off with three tracks from Al Garner and the Roadrunners, former drummer behind Larry Birdsong, Gene Allison and others. Here he steps forward as a lead singer and the results are outstanding and smooth as can be on numbers like "Rhythm Rockin' Blues" and Leiber & Stoller's "Yeah Yeah Yeah." Johnny Jones, former member of the Jimmy Beck Orchestra ("Pipe Dreams"), is up next with three excellent numbers co-written by James, all of them featuring Jones' stinging lead guitar work and laid-back vocals. Vocalist Charles "Wigg" Walker is next, getting soulful on James' "Even the Sky Is Blue" and the driving "99,000 Watts of Soul Power." Closing things out is Clifford Curry (best known for his hit "She Shot a Hole In My Soul") with three self-penned originals, all of them featuring James' tasty guitar with a guest appearance by Sam Lay on drums on "Welfare Blues." All in all, another excellent entry in this important series.

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