Junior Kimbrough

Meet Me in the City

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At its best, Meet Me in the City seems like a postmortem rarities tribute to a blues great who never got his proper due. At its worst, the record is cashing in on a Kimbrough recording that just happens to be lying around. The first four songs, home recordings from 1992, are so horribly noisy and hazy sounding that it's difficult to hear Kimbrough's down-home, modern, offbeat Delta blues and his rough, weathered vocals. Still, the tracks present an intimate and relaxed look at the elder bluesman -- they are chilling, ghost-like, and off-the-cuff. The last four songs, from 1996 and 1993, respectively, are of better sonic quality, without distracting echo and distorted microphones. The riffs and beat of "Junior's Place" are directly descended from "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." It's too bad that the album didn't contain more selections from the 1993 Sunflower Blues Festival. On Meet Me, Kimbrough incorporates the boogie stomp of John Lee Hooker into the irregular frequency of his own romp, and as a result, the record closes on an upbeat and fresh note. Since Kimbrough is on a level next to blues pioneers Son House and Tommy Johnson, it's hard to dismiss the importance of any record blessed with his mastery. Still, with several studio albums to choose from (the first coming in 1992), it's not like the music on Meet Me in the City is as rare as the music on House's Delta Blues, which is the only lasting aural document from his early and most illustrative days. The absence of any liner notes, captivating photos, or essays makes the record lean toward the cash-in-on-death direction. What all this means is that Meet Me in the City is exclusively for those already in love with Kimbrough's dissonant blues guitar style.

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