Long John Baldry

Right to Sing the Blues

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One of the founding fathers of the '60s British blues scene, Long John Baldry owns one of the great white blues voices, a power that remains undiminished for Right to Sing the Blues. The disc forms another consistent Baldry primer visiting the rich diversity of blues styles, from the quiet folk-blues of "Whoa Back Buck" (longtime colleague Papa John King tearing up his slide guitar) to jump blues party tunes like opener "They Raided the Joint." Vocal sidekick Kathi McDonald also carries the torch, especially on an incendiary title track already highlighted by a scorching Colin James guitar riff. On occasion, the tall one is too much the mannered gentleman for the good of his muse. It would be nice to hear him bust loose more frequently, as he does on "I'm Shakin'," his pipes sounding like gargled nails with an Irish Cream chaser. It would also be nice to find him writing again. While mostly recognized as a judicious interpreter, Baldry has proven his capability over the years, and the complete absence of self-penned material strikes one as borderline laziness. He even dips back to a tune already covered on a previous release -- Bonnie Dobson's classic "Morning Dew" -- albeit giving it a fresh Cajun/Zydeco coat of paint. In case dependable, honorable music isn't enough incentive on its own, the disc earns bonus points by concluding with a 23-minute interview in which Baldry recounts his take on the British blues scene. Not exactly flashy multimedia, but a nice addition for fans of pop music history.

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