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Bluju (Bonus Track Version)

Frank Goldwasser

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Album Review

This album from West Coast via Paris blues guitarist Goldwasser has a circuitous history. Originally recorded in 2001, it was finally released — but only on the German Crosscut label — in 2003. It was then given a new lease on life in 2007 when co-producer Randy Chortkoff reissued it in a re-sequenced version with fresh graphics and two bonus tracks on his Delta Groove label. The set is a bit of a mishmash too, with different backing musicians bouncing between styles that both pay tribute to classic blues forms and expand the genre's boundaries on world-influenced tracks such as the Afro-beat of "Don't Take Away My Love." Goldwasser tells the story of his professional career in the spoken word intro to the instrumental late-night groove of "Three Sisters," recounting the various artists he has played with and clubs he has worked in, ending with the titular venue. He also touches base on New Orleans second-line funk with "Petit a Petit (L'Oiseau Fait Son Nid)," sung in his native French, and shifts into a stripped-down Jimmy Reed vamp on a cover of Reed's "I'm a Love You." Goldwasser also successfully takes on soul-blues with a Latin, Santana-styled flair on "I Can't Stand It" and hits Peter Green territory on the instrumental "Melba's Bump." He shifts into lowdown swamp mode on "Well, Well, Josephine," one of the disc's most fiery tracks. It is all impeccably played and Goldwasser is certainly a talented guitarist and vocalist. But neither his voice nor tone is distinctive enough to make blues fan's ears perk up when heard in a pack of similarly gifted players. The disc succeeds on its own terms, though, driven by the artist's obvious enthusiasm for the project. Ultimately, there isn't much terribly unique about Bluju, but Goldwasser acquits himself admirably and over the course of the hourlong playing time hits enough high points to please any contemporary blues fan. However, as of 2007, six years after it was first recorded, there hasn't been a follow-up release.

Bluju (Bonus Track Version), Frank Goldwasser
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