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Raw Deal

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Album Review

Producer and fellow New Yorker guitar slinger Popa Chubby effectively captures Bill Perry's sharp licks and road hardened style on the appropriately titled Raw Deal. The sound is sufficiently unrefined, as is Perry's raspy voice, on this set of searing originals, tempered by a handful of terrific covers. Lyrically the stereotypical life of a "bluesman," told in rather clichéd detail on "Bluesman," ("no insurance, can't get sick") "Big Ass Green Van" and "Going Down to Memphis," doesn't help propel these otherwise well written and arranged songs past established boundaries of the blues-rock genre. "Terrorists," Perry's anti-Iraq war entry, fares somewhat better. Regardless, it's his relentless guitar solos that give this music its guts, and that is where Perry excels. His tone is as gritty as his voice, chewing through this material with licks that reach out and grab the listener, and then pull back into the track. Perry is a master of succinct, fluid lines and has the sense to know when to stop playing, a trick too many in his field haven't mastered. His playing has the tightly wrapped feel of a caged lion before feeding time. A scorching version of Tom Waits' "Til the Money Runs Out" drags the track down to its urban blues roots, and a closing take on Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" brings muscle to the tune's slow boil gospel groove. "Harlem Child" also looks at urban blight, and it's here that Perry's dusky voice and hammerhead guitar strike out with coiled spring intensity. "Live On" takes that hot wired tension and successfully feeds it into a slow R&B pressure cooker. Despite hewing close to the boundaries of his chosen genre, Perry nonetheless stakes his territory as a passionate, tough blues-rocker with a killer tone and enough musical twists to prove why he has survived in an arena rife with lesser talents.


Born: 25 December 1957 in Chester, NY

Genre: Blues

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

Veteran guitarist, singer, and songwriter Bill Perry was one of the most inventive storytellers in the modern blues idiom, yet sadly, he passed away from a heart attack in the summer of 2007. He was 50. He burst upon the national blues touring circuit in the mid-'90s with the short-lived Point Blank/Virgin Record label. Born and raised in Chester, NY, Perry got his first guitar at age five. He quickly learned the theme from "Batman" on it while growing up in a music-filled household. Perry's grandmother...
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Raw Deal, Bill Perry
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