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Blues Round-up: November 2012

Henry Yates on new releases from Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg, Hans Theessink & Terry Evans (Feat. Ry Cooder), John Lee Hooker Jr, Wilson T King and Bex Marshall

Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg: Painkillers

”Take this medicine with a full glass of whiskey,” advises the mock-up pill-bottle sleeve of Painkillers, and it wouldn’t surprise you if Left Lane Cruiser did the same while recording it. With smooth blues around every corner in 2012, this Indiana duo make music for trashing a motel room to. Creatively, this fifth release seems disappointing. After a decade together, you’d hope the core duo of Freddie Evans IV and Brenn Beck would be beyond mining the old songbook for covers. In their hands, though, these benchmarks are barely recognisable. Dixon’s Red Rooster is gutted and roasted. Johnson’s Ramblin’ On My Mind has a hellhound snapping at its balls. On Junior Kimbrough’s Sad Days Lonely Nights, it’s hard to know where the feedback ends and the music begins. It’s only on the clunky trampling of the Stones’ Sway that things go cockeyed. Painkillers is sunburn, moonshine, six-day stubble and hillbilly breath. Just be warned: once you’ve finished that whiskey, you may need a paracetamol. (810)

Hans Theessink & Terry Evans (Feat. Ry Cooder): Delta Time

If Painkillers has left you shaking like a Nam vet, Delta Time will pull you back from the brink. Stacking barbershop harmonies, honeyed slide guitars and the warm throb of Theessink’s percussion, this is a shoulder-rub of a record, given a welcome poke by Cooder’s guest spot on How Come People Act Like That. (710)

John Lee Hooker Jr: All Hooked Up

It can’t be an easy job walking in those shoes, but on the evidence of All Hooked Up, John Lee Hooker Jr has few daddy issues, romping through these brassy funk-blues belters with a louche vocal and some enjoyably daft lyrics about sex-starved housewives and the death of Bin Laden. More esoteric is the bonus DVD, which sets the track Dear John to a film-noir cartoon. (710)

Wilson T King: Last Of The Analogues

A viperous critic of the modern scene – “cliché-ridden karaoke” – and purveyor of what he terms “future blues”, King’s talk is thrillingly matched by his walk on album number two. The blues envelope isn’t so much pushed as pulped by the jazzy motifs and Floyd-ish atmospheres, while on moments like Born Into This, the soul and fire of his guitar work is almost Hendrix-worthy. Have we found the fourth King…? (810)

Bex Marshall: The House Of Mercy

You can see why Bex Marshall has Paul Jones in a flap. She could climb the greasy pole based on her vocal and guitar skills; that she wrote these 11 never-boring songs is the mark of a talent to watch. There are flashes of humour, hints of bluegrass and a sense that anything could happen, exemplified by the moment when a gypsy violin barges into the title track. (810)