Various Artists

Whisky & Blues

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Some might call this a generic collection of modern blues, but the truth is, it’s quite an eclectic one from the opening track on. Whisky & Blues on the Inactmusick imprint has the unlikely distinction of being perhaps the only blues compilation in history to contain a selection by former New York Dolls' frontman David Johansen and his backing band the Harry Smiths, on a beautiful, moody smoky, late-night number called “Somebody Buy Me a Drink.” Other participants here include both name and somewhat more obscure practitioners of modern electric blues. Another of this collection’s highlights is Ana Popovic’s sultry, funky, soulful “Love Fever” with a slinky B-3 groove accented by a female backing chorus, biting electric guitar fills, and her trademark vocal. Former Stray Cat Lee Rocker adds his own impression of the rockabilly blues with “Crazy When She Drinks,” and Guitar Crusher adds his gritty vocal to a horn-drenched “Message to Man" in classic Chicago club style. Kenny Neal's “Whiskey Tears” is a well-known feature of his live set, and is no less powerful here. Perhaps the strangest tune on this collection is the Vivino Brothers' “Soul Revival.” It's a slow, funky shuffle, with loads of hand percussion and muted trumpet à la Miles Davis, along with classic electric blues instrumentation -- including a moody B-3. When you add the backing chorus, it walks the line between contemporary blues and gospel. It’s a nice choice, indeed. In all, while this is perhaps one of the odder collections out there, it’s pretty solid as well; offering enough musical variety to satisfy virtually any fan of the current blues idiom.

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