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Album Review

"Raw" is an overused and sometimes misapplied term of admiration, especially in the realm of the blues, where it is all too often used as a euphemism for "incompetent and off-key." In the case of Louisiana Red's Back to the Black Bayou, however, it's the only apt descriptor, and it's fully justified as a term of praise: his sound is ragged-edged and fiery, though its center is utterly solid and his delivery is unfailingly powerful. Having lived in Germany since the early '80s, he went to neighboring Norway to record this album with producer and guitarist Little Victor, and even if the program leans heavily toward old and familiar material ("Ride on Red," "Too Poor to Die," "I Come from Louisiana"), he gives every track an almost shocking immediacy and energy; the subtle rhythmic shifts and adjustments on "Alabama Train" are handled with both grace and authority, "Roamin' Stranger" is given a powerfully grinding rendition, and the traditional gospel song "Don't Miss That Train" provides a nicely shuffling changeup in both lyrical theme and rhythm. But he is perhaps at his most impressive on "Sweet Leg Girl," a slow blues that shows just how much an expatriate bluesman with 60 years of experience can still do.


Born: 23 March 1932 in Bessemer, AL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Louisiana Red (born Iverson Minter) was a flamboyant guitarist, harmonica player, and vocalist. He lost his parents early in life through multiple tragedies; his mother died of pneumonia a week after his birth, and his father was lynched by the Klu Klux Klan when he was five. Red began recording for Chess in 1949, then joined the Army. After his discharge, he played with John Lee Hooker in Detroit for almost two years in the late '50s, and continued through the '60s and '70s with recording sessions...
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Back to the Black Bayou, Louisiana Red
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