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Big Ol' Fiya

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Album Review

New Orleans based slide guitar veteran John Mooney isn't doing himself any favors with the graphics on his 2006 album. His first release of new material in four years features blurred pictures of what looks like a death mask greeting the potential consumer, and even more alarmingly, there's no song listing. It's as if, as co-art director, he's keeping the music a reward for those who brave the wrapping that is far from indicative of the rousing sounds within. Those already aware of Mooney's swampy, sweat-soaked style through his previous ten albums will find more of the same here. That's no criticism though because Mooney was clearly on fire — or "fiya" — for these pre-Hurricane Katrina February 2005 sessions. All but two of the tunes are originals and while they don't break much new ground, they are more than serviceable vehicles for the guitarist's nasty slide sound and dusky vocals. There is a raw, intense and near primal energy tearing through these tunes that can't be contained. Mooney and his stripped down band featuring the late Jeff Sarli on bass, drummer Raymond Weber, and occasional keyboards from Jon Cleary feed off each other's energy. A few remnants of the guitarist's early Delta-styled work remain, but the disc stays firmly in the grimy, rhythm intense, dark funk of Mooney's typical New Orleans voodoo groove. It sounds like the mojo ran deep during these sessions. When all the pieces fit, as in the closing stalker oriented "No Bout Me," this is as stirring, dangerous and vital as New Orleans music gets, and that's saying a lot. It's like walking down the city's streets with its dark alleys, dodgy neighborhoods, and the lurking sense of something ominous around the corner. Covers of Son House's "Louise McGhee" and Grayson Capps' "Drink a Little Poison" place these songs firmly in Mooney's ballpark and he nails them both with as much passion as the originals that dominate the disc. Ignore the cover and jump in to what is arguably John Mooney's finest hour.


Born: April 03, 1955 in East Orange, NJ

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In the world of blues critics, guitarist, singer, and songwriter John Mooney has long been a favorite. That's because he takes all he learned from classic Delta bluesmen like Son House and others and modernizes their stylings while adding his own unique stamp to classic Delta blues tunes. Even his original songs, often autobiographical, are steeped in the classic blues tradition. Mooney divides his time between residences in Florida and New Orleans, and usually works with a simple guitar-bass-drums...
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Big Ol' Fiya, John Mooney
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