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Blues CDs New Releases - February 2013

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The number of new releases grows in February, with exciting new music coming from faithful old standbys like Bobby Rush and Otis Taylor as well as young turks like Devon Allman, Anders Osborne, and Hadden Sayers. Throw in a rookie move from the talented Bex Marshall and cool archival releases from Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Freddie King, and we'll all be spending a little more coin on music this month. No matter your taste in blues, here's what you'll be listening to in February...

Allman Brothers Band – 'Nassau Coliseum 05/01/73' (Allman Brothers Recordings)

Allman Brothers Band's Nassau Coliseum, NY 05/01/73
Photo courtesy Allman Brothers Band Recordings

More previously-unreleased live music from the seemingly bottomless Allman Brothers Band archive, Nassau Coliseum, NY 05/01/73 is a two-disc set capturing a strong performance by the band in the wake of the deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. This is the version of the band that recorded Brothers and Sisters and this show – taped before that album's release – includes several new songs like "Wasted Words," "Jessica," and the classic hit single "Ramblin' Man." Although the sound quality is dodgy, it's not bad considering the vintage of the recording, but you can never go wrong with ABB live performances of "Whipping Post," "Statesboro Blues," or a red-hot cover of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday." (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Anders Osborne – 'Three Free Amigos' (Alligator Records)

Anders Osborne's Three Free Amigos
Photo courtesy Alligator Records

Anders Osborne spent most of 2012 touring in support of his critically-acclaimed album Black Eye Galaxy, picking up fans one electrifying show after another. Still, the guitarist found enough time to sit for a spell in a hometown studio and cut the new tracks that make up Three Free Amigos, a six-song, semi-acoustic EP recorded in New Orleans. Three Free Amigos shows Osborne experimenting with a number of roots-music styles, including the reggae-rock hybrid "Marmalade," the Bo Diddley-styled "Jealous Love," and a tale of love's healing power, "It's Gonna Be OK" (which had been previously recorded by singer Theresa Andersson). A little something for the fans while Osborne works on his next masterpiece... (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup – 'Sunny Road' (Delmark Records)

Arthur Big Boy Crudup's Sunny Road
Photo courtesy Delmark Records

Sunny Road features previously unreleased performances from Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, the brilliant R&B singer and guitarist that is best-known for "That's All Right," a huge hit for rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley (who also covered a couple other Crudup songs). Recorded in Chicago in November 1969 and featuring Jimmy Dawkins and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Crudup's guitar was amped through the same Leslie speaker that Buddy Guy used on Junior Well's Hoodoo Man Blues album on seven of this disc's nine tracks. Sunny Road also includes a conversation between Crudup and producer Bob Koester that should be interesting. (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Bex Marshall – 'The House of Mercy' (House of Mercy Records)

Bex Marshall's The House of Mercy
Photo courtesy House of Mercy Records

The House of Mercy is the third slab o' hot wax from British roots 'n' blues guitarist Bex Marshall, a self-produced eleven-song collection that has already won praise from the U.K. music press, described as “Bonnie Raitt and Led Zep jamming in an Everglades moonshine joint.” Marshall's gritty, soulful vocals bring to mind the late Janis Joplin while her sound is an inspired blend of blues, rock, bluegrass, and gospel that plays well in both the blues and Americana sandboxes. Ostensibly a low-budget indie release, The House of Mercy is nevertheless swankier than a lot of big money label albums, sporting striking cover graphics, solid production, full credits, and even a booklet with lyrics. This month's sleeper album, Marshall will do well if she scores some summertime festival gigs to go along with The House of Mercy. (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Bobby Rush – 'Down In Louisiana' (Thirty Tigers Records)

Bobby Rush's Down In Louisiana
Photo courtesy Thirty Tigers Records

Bobby Rush's Down In Louisiana is a stripped-down affair that reminds of the classic sound of the Delta through Rush's influences like Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Sonny Boy Williamson, but delivered with the artist's unique sound and creative vision. As Rush says in a press release for the album, "fifty years ago I put funk together with down-home blues to create my own style. Now, with Down In Louisiana, I've done the same thing with Cajun, reggae, pop, rock and blues, and it all sounds only like Bobby Rush." No matter what he does, Bobby Rush always comes up a winner, so I wouldn't bet against this one come BMA time. (Release date: 02/19/13)

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Devon Allman – 'Turquoise' (Ruf Records)

Devon Allman's Turquoise
Photo courtesy Ruf Records

Energized and inspired by a year spent in the company of his Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmates, Devon Allman came off the road long enough to record his debut solo album, Turquoise. Allman recorded Turquoise with producer Jim Gaines in his Tennessee studio, with other recording done at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis with a band that includes RSB drummer Yonrico Scott and bassist Myles Weeks, with folks like guitarist Luther Dickinson, saxophonist Ron Holloway, and keyboardist Rick Steff also joining the party. The material on Turquoise is highly-personal and reflects Allman's life on the road over the past decade, ten original songs, including two tunes co-written with RSB bandmate Mike Zito. (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Elvin Bishop – 'She Puts Me In The Mood' (Blues Boulevard)

Elvin Bishop's She Puts Me In The Mood
Photo courtesy Blues Boulevard

Released by European archival label Blues Boulevard, Elvin Bishop's She Puts Me In The Mood is a sixteen-track compilation of the guitarist's years with Alligator Records. Bishop recorded five critically-acclaimed albums for the legendary Chicago-based label between 1988 and 2000, and this "best of" comp includes some great performances like "Midnight Hour Blues," "I'm Gone," "Devil's Slide," and two live tracks with his late mentor "Little" Smokey Smothers, "Slow Down" and "The Skin They’re In." While hardcore fans already have most of this stuff, it's a great introduction to Bishop's charms for the newcomer. (Release date: 02/12/13)

Freddie King – 'The Complete King Federal Singles' (Real Gone Music)

Freddie King's The Complete King Federal Singles
Photo courtesy Real Gone Music

Texas blues guitarist Freddie King, dubbed "The Texas Cannonball" for his dynamic live performances, was a major influence on a generation of British blues-rockers like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Beck and many others. During the early 1960s, King released a number of essential, groundbreaking singles for the King and Federal Record labels, songs that haven't been anthologized until now. Real Gone Music's The Complete King Federal Singles is a two-CD collection of all 54 of the guitarist's original sides for the two labels, a whopping 155 minutes of fiery guitar blues. Along with King's big hits like "Hideaway," "I'm Tore Down," and "San-Ho-Zay!" the set also includes fine performances like "Lonesome Whistle Blues," "Texas Oil," and "What About Love." (Release date: 02/26/13)

Hadden Sayers – 'Rolling Soul' (Blue Corn Music)

Hadden Sayers' Rolling Soul
Photo courtesy Blue Corn Music

The follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2011 album Hard Dollar, guitarist Hadden Sayers takes another kick at the can with Rolling Soul which, according to the press materials, "promises to pick up where Hard Dollar left off," i.e. you can expect a houserockin' collection of "retro-American soul" with lots of wah-drenched fretwork and bluesy tones fronting for whipsmart lyrics speaking of the hard-fought small victories in life. Hadden, the resident guitarslinger in Ruthie Foster's road band, is an up-and-coming talent with better than a decade under his belt and enough moxie to come back from a two-year hiatus in the early 2000s to rattle and roar once again. Rolling Soul will be well worth checking out for fans of those good ol' guitar blues... (Release date: 02/26/13)

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Mark Robinson – 'Have Axe Will Groove' (Blind Chihuahua Records)

Mark Robinson's Have Axe Will Groove
Photo courtesy Blind Chihuahua Records

With a blockbuster debut album under his belt – 2010's Quit Your Job, Play Guitar was one of the year's best recordings – Robinson comes roaring back with this impressive sophomore effort. Have Axe - Will Groove serves up eleven tasty new jams, most of 'em Robinson originals that display his incredible six-string talents that add the sizzle to a healthy, rocking hybrid of blues, rock, soul, and Southern-fried funk. Robinson uses some of Nashville's best roots 'n' blues talent for the album, including drummer Paul Griffith, bassist Daniel Seymour, and keyboardist Michael Webb as well as guests like Ray Lamontagne (harp) and backing singers Vicki Carrico and Jonell Mosser. Very cool, and one of the year's most anticipated releases from a real up-and-comer. (Release date: 02/26/13)

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Otis Taylor – 'My World Is Gone' (Telarc Records)

Otis Taylor's My World Is Gone
Photo courtesy Telarc Records

My World Is Gone, Otis Taylor's lucky number thirteen, is a partial collaboration between the visionary bluesman and Native American guitarist Mato Nanji of the band Indigenous. Lyrically, the album explores the struggles of the Native American people; musically, it's anything goes. One of the most interesting and intelligent artists on the contemporary blues scene, Taylor continues his string of barrier-busting albums, expanding the vocabulary of the blues and discarding the traditional twelve-bar and boogie formats in favor of a wider and more diverse vision of the genre. (Release date: 02/12/13)

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Robin Trower – 'Roots and Branches' (V-12 Records)

Robin Trower's Roots and Branches
Photo courtesy V-12 Records

With Roots and Branches, blues-rock guitarist Robin Trower lends his trademark sound to a handful of new songs mixed with classic covers. Trower pays homage to a number of blues and rock legends, delivering fiery versions of great tunes like Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign," B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone," Willie Dixon's often-covered "Little Red Rooster" (done best by the great Howlin' Wolf) and Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog." Trower handled vocals on six of the songs, bassist Richard Watts sings the other five, and former Manfred Mann frontman and British blues legend Paul Jones adds harmonica. (Release date: 02/19/13)

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