Delbert McClinton


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The best way to experience Delbert McClinton's rowdy roadhouse combination of blues, roots rock, R&B, country, and Tex-Mex is on-stage with a couple of hundred other fans on a Saturday night. In that spirit, McClinton's second live album, and first since 1989's Live from Austin, documents a single 2003 performance at Norway's Bergen Blues Festival. Originally intended only as a radio broadcast, this is an unpolished example of a typical show. Although it shares five songs with its single-disc predecessor, Live features McClinton weaving newer material in with hits he's been playing for decades, such as "B-Movie Boxcar Blues," "Giving It Up for Your Love," and "Going Back to Louisiana." McClinton's in terrific voice and spirits throughout, and his seven-piece band (including two horns) is tight but loose and ragged enough to grind through rockers with garage band enthusiasm. "Rebecca, Rebecca," the album's slow blues showcase, proves how comfortable McClinton is with his band and being on-stage. This is clearly his forte, and even though he's released some terrific, if not quite classic, studio albums, this is the best way to get an overall dose of his talents. The career-spanning set list isn't a greatest-hits collection, but that just makes it more enjoyable as the singer throws in a few curve balls. His much-lauded harmonica skills are also on display during a knockout version of "I Want to Thank You Baby," but it's on the following eight-minute version of "I Want to Love You" where he and the band stretch out. The only disappointment is the relatively short playing time; a double CD should have been twice as long, and if just one tune were left off, this could have been released as a single disc. Otherwise, this is a nearly perfect document of Delbert McClinton, captured in his natural habitat with all the sweat, intensity, and frisky fun intact.

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