It is impossible to discuss Larry Garner's history without mentioning the European connection. Although the bluesman is from Baton Rouge, LA, Europe is where he enjoyed his first taste of commercial acceptance. The singer/guitarist recorded for a British label (JSP Records) before he recorded for any American companies, and the late '90s and early '00s found him recording for the German Ruf label. This Ruf release documents a 2001 gig at a club in Germany, where Garner provides an inspired dose of electric Louisiana blues and often detours into Louisiana soul. Garner isn't a blues purist; not everything he does has 12 bars, and he is a perfect example of a bluesman who isn't afraid to explore other areas. While Jimmy Witherspoon was a bluesman with jazz leanings and Stevie Ray Vaughan was a bluesman with a strong love of rock, Garner often shows his appreciation of classic '60s and '70s soul. R&B offerings like "Somebody," "The Haves and the Have Nots," and "Where the Blues Turn Back" indicate that Garner probably could have had a meaningful career as a retro-soulster if he had made soul instead of blues his primary focus. But the blues are Garner's foundation, and he sings the Louisiana blues with plenty of conviction on "Born to Sang the Blues," "Blues Ain't Nothing," and "Had to Quit Drinking." One of the nice things about this CD is Garner's willingness to share humorous anecdotes with the audience; during "Born to Sang the Blues," for example, he tells the audience about how people he knew in church urged him to give up secular music -- luckily, they didn't get their wish. From Louisiana blues to Louisiana soul, Embarrassment to the Blues? paints a consistently attractive picture of Garner's live show.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson