Lowell Fulson

Live 1983

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R&B guitarist and singer Lowell Fulson scored his first hit record in 1948, and 35 years later Fulson clearly had no desire to hang up his rockin' shoes, judging from this posthumous live recording. Live 1983 features Fulson playing a club date with Billy Vera and his R&B band the Beaters backing him up and a lively, appreciative audience in attendance, and while the audio is a bit on the noisy side, sounding more like an audience tape than a professional recording, Fulson and the musicians are in strong form, sounding like they're having a splendid time blowing out some of the great songs from Fulson's catalog and generating plenty of fire. The boomy audio doesn't favor Fulson's vocals, which sound a bit murky, but his guitar cuts right through and sounds positively ferocious when he opens up on tunes like "Tramp" and "Guitar Shuffle." And if Vera and the Beaters are a bit on the slick side (and Vera's piano work is busier than it needs to be), they're also plenty tight and emphatic, and they clearly know the material well, giving Fulson and his music all the respect they deserve. Fulson continued to cut fine studio albums well into the '90s (he passed in 1999), but there's a grit and muscle in this live set that brings out the best in his performances, and though these aren't the definitive versions of "Reconsider Baby" and "Everyday I Have the Blues" by a long shot, on this night Fulson has enough swing in him to make them sound fresh and fun, and this is a worthy addition to Fulson's catalog.

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