Unlike with rock, it’s practically a truism for the blues
that the players get better – more intuitive; nuanced; intense, even – with age.
Here to drive that notion home is veteran harp blower Charlie Musselwhite,
Mississippi-born/Southside Chicago-spawned, making a prodigal return to the
venerable Alligator label with a platter so silky-stanky and steamin’ that it oughta be classified as
an enemy of the state – the state of musical complacency, that is.
Backed by players from the Blasters, Hacienda Brothers and
Mavis Staples’ band, Musselwhite dips deep to come up with down ‘n’ dirty
choogle (“Rambler’s Blues”), slow and sinewy 12-bar blues (“Where Hwy 61 Runs,”
in which his confessional vocal is as weatherbeaten as his harmonica is
mournful), and nocturnal swamp-rock (“Hoodoo Queen,” an edgy cross between Dr.
John and Tony Joe White). There’s also a delightful duet with Staples herself,
the cautionary “Sad and Beautiful World.” At 66, Musselwhite’s seen and done a
lot; this opens up a whole new chapter. He may technically qualify as “senior
citizen,” but elder statesman is far
more apt a title.
Queen,” “Where Hwy 61 Runs” FRED MILLS