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Blues CDs New Releases - June 2012


What a difference a month or two makes! We've enjoyed such an abundance of new and reissue blues the past couple of months, that the line-up for June looks sparse by comparison. No matter, 'cause there's still a lot of great stuff to be released this month! You have new discs from Albert Castiglia, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, Johnny Rawls, and Chris O'Leary, among others, as well as archive releases from Johnny Winter and Otis Spann. No matter your taste in blues, here's what you'll be listening to in June...

Albert Castiglia – 'Living The Dream' (Blues Leaf Records)

Albert Castiglia's Living The Dream
Photo courtesy Blues Leaf Records

Blues guitarist Albert Castiglia is one of those mid-tier artists that is just one album away from breaking big and becoming a household word in the blues world. His last album, 2010's Keepin On, was criminally-underrated, but record buyers have another chance to get it right with Living The Dream. Castiglia's latest is a high-octane bonfire of guitar-driven blues, a mix of inspired originals like the title track or "Public Enemy #9" alongside classics from Freddie King, Paul Butterfield, Little Richard, and the sturdy, dependable Mose Allison gem "Parchman Farm." Recommended... (Release date: 06/12/12)

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Chris O'Leary Band – 'Waitin' For The Phone To Ring' (Vizztone Records)

Chris O'Leary Band's Waitin' For The Phone To Ring
Photo courtesy Vizztone Records

Blues singer and underrated harp master Chris O'Leary follows up on his critically-acclaimed release Mr. Used To Be with a new white-hot slab o' soul 'n' blues titled Waitin' For The Phone To Ring. Thirteen new original numbers, produced by talented guitarist Dave Gross, lots of guitars and horns and, of course, O'Leary's great voice and harmonica tone...what more could a blues fan want? (Release date: 06/26/12)

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Chris Smither – 'Hundred Dollar Valentine' (Signature Sounds)

Chris Smither's Hundred Dollar Valentine
Photo courtesy Signature Sounds

It's hard to put a finger on Chris Smither, or to pigeonhole him in a single style, but the best we can do is say that he's mixed blues, folk, and rock music to create a unique sound for better than four decades now. Originally inspired by folk-bluesmen like Josh White and Texas blues great Lightnin' Hopkins, Smither's work through the years has helped define the Americana genre. Hundred Dollar Valentine is Smither's follow-up to his acclaimed 2009 album Time Stands Still, and it evinces a similar roots 'n' blues aesthetic that fans of a more literate style of music will love. (Release date: 06/19/12)

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Johnny Rawls – 'Soul Survivor' (Catfood Records)

Johnny Rawls' Soul Survivor
Photo courtesy Catfood Records

Soul-bluesman Johnny Rawls is one of the unsung legends of the Southern soul circuit, touring with both O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor, providing both with the benefit of his underrated six-string talents and warm vocals. As a solo artist, Rawls has quietly chalked up an impressive number of award-winning moments, his 2009 album Ace of Spades grabbing a Blues Music Award. Soul Survivor is Rawls latest masterpiece, and if you're a fan of sweet Southern soul, he's your man. (Release date: 06/19/12)

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Johnny Winter – 'Live Bootleg Series, Vol. 8' (Friday Music)

Johnny Winter's Live Bootleg Series, Vol. 8
Photo courtesy Friday Music

Not sure exactly what's going on with Friday Music these days – the company's website is pretty unresponsive and there's a note that says that they "will be back very soon" – but nonetheless, here's an eighth volume of blues-rock guitarist Johnny Winter's Live Bootleg Series albums. You should know the drill by now, these are curated by JW himself from an archive full of live tapes, and number eight includes covers of Freddie King ("Tore Down"), Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven"), and Elmore James ("Stranger Blues") as well as a handful of original jams; released on both CD and limited edition 180gr vinyl. (Release date: 06/05/12)

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Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials – 'Jump Start' (Alligator Records)

Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials' Jump Start
Photo courtesy Alligator Records

Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials return after a four-year absence with fourteen shots of toe-tapping, liver-quivering houserockin' blues in Jump Start. Produced by Williams and Alligator label mastermind Bruce Iglauer, the guitarist with the big sound leads his Blues Music Award winning band - bassist James "Pookie" Young, guitarist Mike Garrett, and drummer Kelly Littleton - through a positively smokin' set of raunchy, raucous blues that showcase Williams' soulful vocals and raw, wicked slide-guitar skills. (Release date: 06/05/12)

Mark Hummel – 'Blue and Lonesome: Tribute To Little Walter' (Rockinitus Records)

Mark Hummel's Blue and Lonesome: Tribute To Little Walter
Photo courtesy Rockinitus Records

Blues harp player Mark Hummel has pieced together this tribute to Chicago blues legend Little Walter from a quarter-century of studio and live recordings. Unlike similar tribute efforts, Hummel went a little further than just re-hashing the hits, choosing some choice but obscure cover songs to honor the influential harpist. The album includes guest appearances from four musicians that played with Walter, including Dave Myers and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith as well as friends like Rusty Zinn and Doug Rynack; released in a limited edition of 1,000 copies. (Release date: 06/19/12)

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Otis Spann – 'Ebony & Ivory Blues' (Blues Boulevard Records)

Otis Spann's Ebony & Ivory Blues
Photo courtesy Blues Boulevard Records

We'd have to call this Otis Spann release from European label Blues Boulevard our "pick to click" this month. Two CDs of vintage Spann, Ebony and Ivory Blues features early solo tracks recorded in Chicago, as well as choice selections from the pianist's 1960 sessions in New York City with Robert Lockwood Jr. Forty songs altogether, including bonus tracks featuring Spann backing up legends like Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, and others. Sure, a lot of this stuff has been released before, but there's still gold in that mine, and if you don't have it, get it! (Release date: 06/12/12)

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Ranie Burnette – 'Hill Country Blues' (Fat Possum Records)

Ranie Burnette's Hill Country Blues
Photo courtesy Fat Possum Records

You can't feel too good about your chances as an artist when your record label (in this case, esteemed former blues label Fat Possum) doesn't even have a description of your album on their website. No matter, 'cause this vinyl-only release from this obscure Hill Country bluesman offers up eleven tracks of acoustic country-blues in the vein of the great R.L. Burnside, who is said to have been inspired by Burnette, so it's all good. (Release date: 06/19/12)

Seth Walker – 'Time Can Change' (Royal Potato Records)

Seth Walker's Time Can Change
Photo courtesy Royal Potato Records

Roots-n-blues artist Seth Walker follows up on his critically-acclaimed 2009 album Leap of Faith with this fine collection of blues-influenced Americana. A gritty, raw vocalist with the ability to turn a phrase, Walker is also a fine, bluesy guitarist with a whole Southern soul vibe going on in his work. Time Can Change was largely financed through the artist's Kickstarter campaign, so this is about as indie an indie release as you're going to find. Walker has won accolades from folks like Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball, so he's well worth checking out! (Release date: 06/19/12)

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Willy DeVille – 'Live In Paris & New York' (Big Beat Records U.K.)

Willy DeVille's Live In Paris & New York
Photo courtesy Big Beat Records U.K.

From the Big Beat U.K. label comes a timely reissue of this 1993 live album from soul-blues-rock vocalist extraordinaire Willy DeVille. Featuring performances recorded, well, in Paris and New York City, DeVille was riding high on the continent at the time in the wake of his best-selling Backstreets of Desire album and its European hit "Hey! Joe." This live set offers up 15 great tracks, including such fan favorites as "Spanish Stroll," "Cadillac Walk," "Savor Faire," and "I Must Be Dreaming." (Release date: 06/12/12)

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