Charlie Musselwhite

Harpin' on a Riff: The Best of Charlie Musselwhite

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Music Club has done it again with this amazing retrospective of blues guitarist and harmonicat Charlie Musselwhite. The Mississippi-born, Memphis-raised, and Chicago-trained bluesman has issued so many strong recordings it's a wonder that this isn't a box set. But if you have to boil it down to a single disc for a budget price, this is the one to have without question. Contained within its 20 selections are tracks from his two 1970s Arhoolie albums, Takin' My Time and Goin' Back Down South, from 1971 and 1974, respectively; The Harmonica According to Charlie Musselwhite, issued first on Kicking Mule and later on Blind Pig in 1978 and 1994, respectively; and finally from his Alligator albums, Ace of Harps (1990 and a Grammy winner), Signature (1992 and Grammy nominated), and In My Time (1994, also Grammy nominated). These tracks come from Musselwhite's most fertile years when he was playing with reckless abandon a style of music he learned playing with Big Joe Williams on Maxwell Street and Muddy Waters in the clubs of Chicago. Featured here are the title track, "Finger Lickin' Good," "When It Rains It Pours," "Revelation," "Hear Me Talkin'," "This Old Nightlife," "It's Getting Warm In Here," "Crazy for My Baby," and more than a dozen more. The pace is nonstop, and it shows Musselwhite's development and refinement of his signature style on the harp and on the guitar. This is a blues album that's guaranteed to raise the roof at a party before it burns the joint down and will satisfy any aficionado's ear for the best of Musselwhite. The only criticism might have been to include some of the '60s live stuff he did with Muddy Waters, but it's really a small complaint. This thing delivers the bluer-than-blue goods raw, immediate, and full of pathos. For the price, there isn't a better Musselwhite album available anywhere.

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