A beautifully packaged edition of Junior Kimbrough's first album, recorded live in the converted church that replaced Kimbrough's original wooden shack juke joint. The lineup is Kimbrough on vocals and guitar, Garry Burnside on bass, and Kenny Malone on drums (it's a family business around this area, and you'll find Burnsides and Malones all over Fat Possum's releases). All Night Long is a big, scruffy racket of an electric blues album, and it's fantastic material, a mix of charging, biting rhythms, intense slow blues, hollerin', stompin' and moanin'. The lack of studio polish is a big plus here – producer Robert Palmer was absolutely right to give this to us flubs and all – and the energy is wonderful. A great electric blues portrait that's getting widespread attention at last – and deserves it all.
At its best, Meet Me in the City seems like a postmortem rarities tribute to a blues great who never got his proper due. At its worst, the record is cashing in on a Kimbrough recording that just happens to be lying around. The first four songs, home recordings from 1992, are so horribly noisy and hazy sounding that it's difficult to hear Kimbrough's down-home modern offbeat Delta blues and his rough, weathered vocals. Still, the tracks present an intimate and relaxed look at the elder bluesman — they are chilling, ghost-like, and off-the-cuff. The last four songs, from 1996 and 1993, respectively, are of better sonic quality, without distracting echo and distorted microphones…….
Anybody who has followed the development of Ray Wylie Hubbard as an artist over the last dozen years or so has had to be keenly aware that he's been moving through changes in lyric style, melodic invention, and production styles. He's also been on a spiritual odyssey in his music that culminated on the excellent Eternal & Lowdown. Growl is a record of an awareness gained; it is expressed in the most basic, elemental physical and emotional truths (from humor to doubt to surrender to anger at hypocrisy) in these songs.
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.