James Peterson – Preachin’ The Blues
Appropriately titled, James Peterson's latest disc borrows heavily from the traditions of soul and gospel.
Originally from Alabama, this self-taught guitarist has been a sideman for Jimmy Reed, Koko Taylor, Freddie King, Big Joe Turner and countless others who played the various blues clubs that Peterson has operated throughout the country.
For all of his travels, though, Peterson's Southern gospel roots are unmistakable. On this recording you can hear them on the inspirational wall of sound generated by Clayton Ivey's Hammond B-3 organ and frequent choir-style backing vocal arrangements and hand claps that sound as though they're generated by a small army of enlightened believers. "Lost What I Had" opens with a pulpit-style spoken-word intro, as does the autobiographical "Why Mama Had to Cry," which sounds like a cathartic confessional fueled by a chorus of backing vocalists belting out an unrelenting refrain.
But there's more to Preachin' the Blues than just the gospel sound. "Silky Silk" is a punchy shuffle with crisp, tasty guitar accents and solo work from Peterson. "Come Home to Eat" slows down the pace with a creamy guitar solo that's a smooth contrast to the grittier stuff that precedes it.
Peterson delves into soul and R&B on "The Bottom Line" and "Women's Pet," two tracks similar in their reliance on a hooky bass riff as a solid foundation, with the latter incorporating some understated but tight horn accents that further the R&B flavor.
As closing tracks go, the slow, rambling "Some Things a Man Shouldn't Have to Do" is a little weak. The energized 12-bar "I've Got a Problem" would have been a better choice. In general, though, Preachin' the Blues is very satisfying. Passionate vocals, solid musicianship and conscientious production values are what good blues records are all about. -- John C. Bruening
1. Shoe On The Other Foot - 4:57 2. Who Shot John? - 4:20 3. Lost What I Had - 4:34 4. Silky Silk - 3:27 5. Come Home To Eat - 7:26 6. The Bottom Line - 4:14 7. Women's Pet - 4:19 8. Why Mama Had To Cry - 4:29 9. I've Got A Problem - 4:00 10. Some Things A Man Shouldn't Have To Do - 5:27
James Peterson (vocals, guitar) , Clayton Ivey (keyboards) , William Andrew Thomas / G.W. Rose / Big Mike Griffin (guitar) , Joel Brodsky (bass) , Paul H. Lee (drums) , TN’T Horns-Dennis Taylor (saxes) , Terry Townsend (trumpet) , James Burks / Jewel Bass / Maurice Surrell / Quandra Brooks / Roger Bryant / Thomisene Anderson (backing vocals)