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Stereo Death Breakdown

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Album Review

40 years ago this original of this album almost appeared on Island Records, and therein lies a tale almost as interesting as the record itself. Ian A. Anderson, as he was then known, almost shared a name with Jethro Tull's frontman. The band's management decided the label wasn't large enough for two Ian Andersons and the newcomer was shuffled off elsewhere. As an anecdote it's priceless, but so is this artefact of the British blues boom of the late 1960s. It was, perhaps, great hubris on Anderson's part to believe he could write blues songs equal to those of the greats (and he probably cringes these days over "Short Haired Woman Blues"), but in many ways they hold up well, and he's helped out by some excellent musicians, notably the great Bob Hall on piano, while Chris Turner turns in some stunning harmonica performances. At times it all gets a bit jig band, but when the blues fully asserts itself, this is actually a good record, not just of its time, but good, period, with a standout vocal contribution from "Harmonica" Annie Matthews on "New Lonesome Day." No one's going to claim Anderson is a great blues singer, but he tries hard here, approximating a kind of Southern drawl and generally staying on key. But even if the technique isn't perfect, the feel is, and that counts for a great deal.

Stereo Death Breakdown, Ian Anderson's Country Blues Band
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