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Blues Walkin' Like a Man - A Tribute to Son House

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Album Review

That Rory Block is an astonishingly capable blues artist has been evident for many years, but with this tribute to the legendary Eddie J. "Son" House Jr., her cache is elevated even further. The shifty and slinky flexible slide work of House, and his preachy, shout chorus style vocalizing is perfectly exemplified on his tunes by Block. What is wondrous is that Block loses nothing of her personal sound and identity, as if she is mystically channeling the acoustic blues icon through some higher powered means. Block's pure and simple solo persona is electrified through many of House's classic tunes and some well chosen others, and she does them all proud. Everyone will enjoy and appreciate her spot-on take of "Death Letter," 12-bar train inspired "Depot Blues" featuring her immaculate slide guitar work, and the inspired devices, phrasings, and fervent singing on the energetic "Preachin' Blues." "Grinnin' in Your Face" is perhaps the most beloved tune of Son House, the tale of two-faced, untrustworthy people she sings with a slight echo or reverb in her voice that is truly haunting. Tales of a bad luck lover on "Jinx Blues" is as deep and personal as authentic blues gets, while the back porch moanin' "Low Down Dirty Dog Blues" echoes the pre-Howlin' Wolf style House founded. Listeners need to be advised that Rory Block is not photocopying these songs as much as she is assimilating them with her own voice, but in the pure and unique original voicings Son House invented. The loping "Country Farm Blues" and signature tune "Shetland Pony Blues" show the extreme passion and depth Block feels in this music. There are asides away from the guitar/vocal approach, as overdubbed vocals on "Dry Spell Blues," the more folksy "I Want to Go Home on the Morning Train," or an occasional harmonica insert by John Sebastian add a little variety. A most highly recommended recording that easily stands next to her previously recorded tribute to Robert Johnson, Blues Walkin' Like a Man ranks among Rory Block's very best efforts in her long, satisfying career, and is a welcome reminder of how a handful artists like Son House truly revolutionized American music. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Essential listening for any blues fan

Rory Block is, without question, one of today's most stellar acoustic blues musicians. More often than not she is in a league all her own. No one plays these blues with more expression than Rory, and as far as technical ability she is the most dead-on accurate interpreter of acoustic blues of all contemporary artists. She's probably best known to contemporary audiences for her interpretations of Robert Johnson's work, but here she turns her skills to the repertoire of someone she knew when she was "coming up": Son House. House was, of course, along with Charley Patton, Johnson, Skip James, one of the true fathers of the Delta Blues. He differed from those other artists, however, in focusing almost exclusively on bottleneck slide with a National steel guitar. His vocals were literally spine-chilling. House usually had a "less-than-subtle" approach to his blues playing and singing, but could still pull off a lick and hook that would make you weep. Rory captures all of this and more in this amazing new CD. From the almost "march-like" rhythm of the opening "My Black Mama" through the syncopated "Shetland Pony Blues" to the sublime "Government Fleet Blues" Rory treats House's repertoire with respect yet still manages to make the songs ring with her own style and blues. As someone who's watched her over the years it's still amazing how she continues to just get better and better. Both her playing and singing have never been better. This is a MUST have CD!


Born: November 6, 1949 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Aurora "Rory" Block has staked her claim to being one of America's top acoustic blues women, an interpreter of the great Delta blues singers, a slide guitarist par excellence, and a talented songwriter in her own right. Born and raised in Manhattan by a family that had bohemian leanings, she spent her formative years hanging out with musicians like Peter Rowan, John Sebastian, and Geoff Muldaur, who hung out in her father's sandal shop, before picking up the guitar at the age of ten. Her record debut...
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