Junior Parker

The Mercury Recordings

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After a stint with Duke, Junior Parker recorded for Mercury Records and the cream of that association made the final 14 here, which feature Parker on harp and bluesy, whiskey-tenor vocals. The lyrics in Jimmy Reed's "Hey Lawdy Mama" fit Parker's persona to a tee, and the blues wailer probably used it hundreds of times in real situations to snare unsuspecting victims. He's quite the charmer, even when his heart is hurting. "Wish Me Well," a swing jump blues number, sets the stage for craftily arranged songs adorned by spiffy horns. "Just Like a Fish" and Ray Charles' "Come Back Baby" are prime down-home blues: saucy vocals, rolling rhythms, and guitar licks that sound like the musician is picking the strings with a razor blade. He's unsure his baby loves him on "Sometimes I Wonder," a prevalent theme in blues music. And you'll be shouting as "Country Girl" spins; he gets into this song as if he has a particular country girl in mind. "You Can Make It if You Try" and "If I Had Your Love" are seasoned-to-pleased slow-blues numbers that Parker tenderizes until they're falling off the bone into your heart.

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