Discovering the Blues is culled from a series of concerts Robben Ford gave in the early '70s at Huntington Beach's Golden Bear and Ash Grove in Hollywood. At the time, Ford was just beginning his career, and his style wasn't nearly as accomplished as it would later be. Instead, he simply burns, tearing through blues classics with a passion and vigor – there is a joy of discovery in his playing which makes the music nearly transcendent, even with its flaws. Discovering the Blues is rawer than most records in Ford's catalog, but any serious fan will find it a necessary addition to their collection.
On Handful of Blues, Robben Ford strips his sound back to the basics, recording a set of blues with only a bassist and a drummer. The group runs through a handful of standards, including "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "I Just Want to Make Love to You," and a number of made-to-order originals. Throughout the album the musicians play well, but Ford's voice is never commanding. However, this is a minor flaw, since his guitar speaks for itself.
On Handful of Blues, Robben Ford strips his sound back to the basics, recording a set of blues with only a bassist and a drummer. (…) his guitar speaks for itself.
This is a keeper from the word "go." Recorded live in 1995 (but not released until 1998) at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, Robben Ford is joined by long-time Blue Line trio members Roscoe Beck on bass and Tom Brechtlein on drums, as well as Bill Boublitz on a baby grand piano. Although nearly all of the songs can be found on other Ford albums (most are from Handful of Blues), one of the things that makes this jazzy recording so special is that Ford is playing only an acoustic guitar. The Ray Charles gem "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (which you WON'T find elsewhere) is simply beautiful, and on Paul Butterfield's "Lovin' Cup," it's just Ford and his guitar. The brilliance of his playing and the reason behind why so many guitar players put him at the top of their list can be found in Ford's performance on this release, alternating between lead and rhythm. The Authorized Bootleg also has great (albeit laid-back) versions of "When I Leave Here" and "Tired of Talkin'." Highly, highly recommended.