Lucky Peterson’s journey through the blues has been a long and labyrinthine one. A child prodigy, he scored his first hit at the age of six, appeared on both The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, and was a longtime member of Bobby "Blue" Bland's traveling and recording band before he got his own shot as a leader in the '80s. He’s a notable guitarist who also plays a hell of a piano and a Hammond B-3, is a fine vocalist and arranger. He’s recorded jazz and gospel albums -- he collaborated with Mavis Staples on the excellent Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson. Heart of Pain is a return to (mostly) contemporary Chicago-style blues, on which Peterson plays lead guitar, keyboards, and sings. He is backed by his current road band and a three-piece horn section. Heart of Pain is his third recording for Great Britain's JSP imprint, and quite solid. It contains 11 tracks of old-school Chicago blues beginning with a rollicking reading of John Steadman's and Steve Washington’s “Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire” (they wrote the majority of the tunes here). The I-IV-V progression features a killer piano break from Peterson. The title track highlights Peterson's guitar muscle with a deeply soulful vocal. There is a slick gospel number on the set called “He’s the Answer,” penned with his sister, Tamara, who offers a fine duet performance. Another roadhouse rocker is the stellar “I Will Survive,” with its punchy horns, B-3, and stinging guitar fills. There’s a strutting piano workout called “Lucky’s 88” and the set closes with the funky “I Won't Be Found,” featuring a swaggering horn chart. In sum, this is a great place to catch Peterson at what he does best, and yet another chapter in his blues sojourn.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek