Duffy Power

Sky Blues

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For a guy who's never been too well known or even managed to make a heck of a lot of records, Duffy Power made quite a few appearances on the BBC as far back as the late '50s. This 19-track compilation is actually only a fraction of those, but it's well assembled and satisfying, though it's unfortunate that a 1970 solo session and a 1967 one as leader of Duffy's Nucleus could not be cleared for inclusion. All but three songs come from the late '60s and early '70s, a time at which he was, to admit a begged-for pun, at full power. And even if its primary appeal is to fans of this fine, eclectic, cult blues-rock artist, it's of above-average interest as far as BBC compilations go, since it captures Power in some quite different settings. Five acoustic songs from a 1970 session have Power backed by British blues great Alexis Korner on guitar and serve as further evidence that Power was one of the U.K.'s finest folk-bluesmen, on both originals (including the otherwise unreleased "Halfway Blues") and covers of "That's All Right Mama" and Robert Johnson's "Hellhound." Six songs from a 1971 session are backed only by Mike Hall on keyboards, but are just as effective in their stark yet sensitive delivery. These include the exceptionally haunting jazz-blues Power original "The River," and oddities like "Baby Let's Play House" and a bluesy reworking of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" (which Power had covered on disc way back in 1963). The four 1973 tracks have a more standard, full-blues-rock band backing, and though not as outstanding as the other sessions, command decent respect. The CD's rounded out by three 1994 cuts on which he's backed only by acoustic guitar and Dick Heckstall-Smith's saxophone, and one rather rough-fidelity cut from a 1968 session, a cover of "Gin House Blues." Actually the sound on the 1970 session is mediocre (though listenable) too, but on the whole this is a good collection as both a listening experience and a document of facets of his work that weren't always readily available on official releases.