Blues Come Home to Roost

Super Chikan

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Blues Come Home to Roost Review

by Chris Nickson

As far as debuts go, the one from James "Super Chikan" Johnson is one of the most auspicious and accomplished of modern times. Recorded in Clarksdale, MS -- about as close to a home as blues has -- it covers the bases, from the sophisticated soulful swing of "Crystal Ball Eyes" to the funk of "Super Chikan Strut" and the Mississippi pride of "Down in the Delta" (albeit with a bayou rhythm). Unlike so many bluesmen, however, Super Chikan doesn't always take himself too seriously -- he's not averse to crowing like a rooster, or throwing in a self-deprecatory chicken scratch on the guitar, or the overbearing mama of "Mama & the Chillen." In addition to being a very solid, occasionally inspired, writer (as on the soul "service" history of "Captain Love Juice"), he's a very decent vocalist, and a guitarist who tends to hide his light under a bushel, rarely unleashing his talents, which is a shame, because the ability is there. When he does get (semi-) properly serious, on the slow-jam "Bleeding From the Heart," he shows himself following classic footsteps, a Chicago wail tempered by a Delta heart that simply oozes the blues in every note and syllable. More than simply a novelty act, Super Chikan is part of the great lineage of American blues music, and proof that the blues is very much still alive and kicking -- thankfully.

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