Thursday, October 29, 2009

Robert Jr. Lockwood & Johnny Shines - "Mister Blues Is Back To Stay" - 1981

This is the second of the two LPs Johnny and Robert did for Rounder in the early 80s - the first being "Hangin' On," previously posted here. This record is a bit more of a mixed bag for me. For one thing, it was Johnny's first post-stroke record, so his vocal power is somewhat diminished, and there is none of his guitar. Plus, there are some dated elements for sure. The cheesy flange effects on Lockwood's guitar come to mind, as well as - I gotta admit it - Johnny's "Soul Power."

However, there are also some really good tunes here. Although the stroke robbed Johnny's voice of some of its nuance and flexibility, he is still a great singer, even with a hobbled instrument. Ten years later he would make the brilliant "Back To The Country" with a voice even more weary and enfeebled than it is here, and it would feature some of the most riveting vocal performances of his career. Personally, I'm convinced that Johnny could have made great music with sign language. And Lockwood - though I'm not always a fan of his psuedo jazz/funk noodling - has a couple of nice moments as well. All in all, not a masterpiece, but it didn't deserve to go out of print, either.

1. For You My Love
2. My Bad Luck Soul
3. Party Time
4. I Want You To Know
5. Rockin' Free
6. Mister Blues
7. Soul Power
8. Blues On The Hour
9. Inflation Blues
10. Stake A Claim
11. Hey Hey

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