Geoff Muldaur, alumnus of Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band and Paul Butterfield's Better Days, came back in 1998 with his first solo album in several years, and the self-assuredness that permeates Secret Handshake was well worth the wait. Muldaur, always an eccentric interpreter of other people's material (his version of "Brazil" pervades the soundtrack of the Terry Gilliam film with the same name), takes on a batch of his favorite old country-blues tunes and adds a couple of atmospheric originals to the mix as well. But rather than the standard, reverent solo acoustic approach, Muldaur definitely puts his own touch on each and every obscure chestnut that's here, with nary a one resembling the original version. Recorded over the course of a year in a variety of studios across the U.S.A., he has assembled a first-rank cast of players including Turner Stephen Bruton on guitar, Bill Rich on bass, and Larry Thompson on drums, with Hal Ketchum, Sean Hopper, Lenny Pickett, David Grisman, Amos Garrett and John Magnie all making guest appearances. Highlights include "The Wild Ox Moan," "This World Is Not My Home," "Alberta," "Mistreated Mama," and a pair of Muldaur originals, "Got to Find Blind Lemon, Pt. 1" and "I Believe I'll Go Back Home." Muldaur has created something unique and original with this disc; your standard-fare white country-blues album this is not.
The Secret Handshake Review
by Cub Koda