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Album Review

The 1996 release Mississippi Kid sounds like it could have been released a quarter-century or more before, which is a compliment. Bracingly free of the rockist clichés that bog down so many latter-day blues albums, Mississippi Kid is solid Chicago-style blues, with Smith's guitar and vocals supported by two organists and a full horn section. Presented as a sort of musical autobiography, with the personal title track ending the album as a kind of summation, the album dusts off a couple of Smith's earlier hits, most notably a slow, gripping version of his signature song, "Give Me My White Robe," and the playful shaggy-dog story "Blues on the Moon," given a suitably light-hearted and sly treatment. Smith is in excellent voice throughout and his playing is as fine as always, making Mississippi Kid a late highlight in his long and sometimes underappreciated career.

Biography

Born: 17 April 1933 in Monticello, MS

Genre: Blues

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

Strictly judging from the lyrical sentiment of his recordings, it might be wise not to make Chicago guitarist Byther Smith angry. Smitty's uncompromising songs are filled with threats of violence and ominous menace (the way blues used to be before the age of political correctness), sometimes to the point where his words don't even rhyme. They don't have to, either — you're transfixed by the sheer intensity of his music. Smitty came to Chicago during the mid-'50s after spending time toiling...
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Mississippi Kid, Byther Smith
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