Various Artists

Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough

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If rock & roll is the bastard child of the blues, it's only one of many. Junior Kimbrough was rumored to have sired 36 children before his passing in 1998, but on this tribute CD, Fat Possum Records brings together 15 of bluesman Kimbrough's spiritual bastards, including some absolute legends of underground rock. Opening and closing with two different versions of "You Better Run," the reunited Iggy & the Stooges go straight for the throat, as would be expected. More surprising are the contributions from Spiritualized, who complete their transition from space-age gospel shoegazers to the blues-rock already hinted at in recent recordings, while the Blues Explosion pass on their well-known punkified yelp in exchange for a more straight rendition of "Meet Me in the City." Other rockers well-known for their blues roots are the Black Keys and Screaming Trees/Queens of the Stone Age vocalist Mark Lanegan, who's lesser known cover of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" inspired the infamous Nirvana unplugged version. The loosest recording comes from U.K. youngsters the Fiery Furnaces. Their version of "I'm Leaving" showcases Eleanor Friedberger's impressive juke-joint voice while brother Matthew Friedberger's quick-fingered guitar playing is the most skillful on display. It is inspiring that yet another generation of unkempt rockers are aware of the quickly disappearing blues' originals, and occasionally even up-stage the elder rockers, all of whom, of course, Kimbrough would have considered young'uns.

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