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A Shot of Love In a Time of Need

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Album Review

Singer/pianist Willie Murphy is the kind of artist for whom the term "cult hero" was invented. His career began with a bang back in 1969, when he partnered with guitarist "Spider" John Koerner to make the head-turning psychedelic Americana album Running, Jumping, Standing Still for Elektra. With his group Willie & the Bumble Bee he backed Bonnie Raitt and became a blues-rockin' journeyman. With 40 years of hard roads behind him, Murphy sounds as energized as ever on this double album. Not merely a double-length release, this package is really two separate albums, each with their own title, cover, and agenda. Up front is A Shot of Love in a Time of Need, a collection of funky, R&B-based tunes, including both covers and Murphy's own songs. On the flipside — literally — is Autobiographical Notes, a collection of tunes Murphy's had kicking around for a while but couldn't find a home for until now, mostly because of the varied styles they encompass.

Murphy comes out with all guns blazing on the first disc, unleashing a visceral piano style that seems to get in between the cracks in the keyboard, and a gritty, soul-slathered vocal delivery that's perhaps best triangulated somewhere in the middle of Leon Russell, Jim Dickinson, and Dr. John. He's capable of bringing life even to an overdone tune like "Land of 1000 Dances," and his original tunes stand up alongside the R&B classics he covers. The second disc is a hodge-podge of honky-tonk, folk-rock ballads, soul, and Band-esque roots rock, plus a bluesy cover of Fred Neil's "The Dolphins" thrown in for good measure. If Autobiographical Notes isn't as consistent as its funkier partner, that's part of its eccentric, ragtag charm; whatever mode it finds Murphy in, it portrays him accurately as a true American original doing his thing out there in the margins of the music biz, where a man can really get his mojo working. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Weird that nobody from Minneapolis has commented on this album from Willie. He's been part of the music scene there for over 40 years and anyone who's seen his live performances knows the about the supreme talent he is. I would be in local clubs when Willie and the Bees would be playing and it would be the best soulful r/b & blues performances anyone probably saw in their lives. He's the real deal.


Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s

A blues pianist and former leader of Willies and the Bees, Murphy has long been a fixture on the Minneapolis club scene. His album Mr....
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A Shot of Love In a Time of Need, Willie Murphy
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