Henry Gray & Rudi Richard

Louisiana Swamp Blues, Vol. 2

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Dedicated to Slim Harpo, this brief album, recorded in Baton Rouge, LA, in 1990, is a split affair, with blues pianist Henry Gray alternating tracks with guitarist (and accordion player) Rudi Richard in a nifty little swamp blues collection. Although one wishes the two musicians had done some of these songs together, their approach to the blues (different as they are) complement each other well, and the sequence doesn't suffer for this split format. Gray, in particular, has an intriguing sound, adding a certain intangible bayou sensibility to his Chicago piano style, and his rough, everyman vocals on sides like "Talkin' About You" and the self-penned "Gold Chills" carry a degree of authenticity, particularly with Slim Harpo's drummer, Jess Kenchin, pounding away. Richard is less distinctive as a vocalist, but as Harpo's longtime guitarist (he put the guitar sting in "I'm a Kingbee," and if you've heard the song, you know about the sting), he, too, has an authentic claim to this material, and while his version of the bayou chestnut "Tee Ni Nee Na Nu" essentially seems to be by the numbers, his sleek, angular version of "Good for the Goose" is a solid delight. Again, it would have been nice if Gray, Richard, and Kenchin had all worked together on a few of these tracks, but even without that, this set still functions pretty well as a simple and unassuming introduction to Louisiana swamp blues.

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