Billy Branch

Live '82

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The fact that Billy Branch's backing band for this live date from 1982 is called the SOBs gives listeners hope that this will be a nasty, biting concert. For the most part, that's incorrect, since this wasn't a performance that reached a rolling boil -- it was one that kept to a low simmer. Nearly all of the songs are taken at slow tempos, and the band lays back greatly; even when they get a little bit of steam, as on "Eyesight to the Blind," they're relaxed. This isn't a bad thing, and the group -- including not just Branch, but Lurrie Bell, Eli Murray, J.W. Williams, and Carey Bell, all held in place by drummer Mose Rutues -- works well together, creating some nice off-hand moments in nearly every track. Still, nothing here is particularly compelling, even with the addition of two bonus tracks on the CD reissue, and it's primarily only of interest to completists.

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