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Bad Man

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Album Review

What goes around comes around in the blues world. Although T-Model Ford is from Mississippi, not all of his influences are Mississippi Delta influences — his dusky, moody electric blues also owe something to Chicago (Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf), Detroit (John Lee Hooker), and Texas (Lightnin' Hopkins). Of course, Waters, Hooker, and Wolf were all born in Mississippi; they were Southern bluesmen who moved north, plugged in, and became identified with electric post-World War II Northern blues. But Hooker wasn't born in Detroit any more than Waters and Wolf were born in Chicago. So again, what goes around comes around in the blues world. Whether you describe Ford's approach as Northern or Southern — and truth be told, it's a combination of the two — Bad Man is a compelling slice of tough, gritty, genuinely lowdown blues. The things that make Ford so compelling are his soulfulness and his lack of slickness. The singer/guitarist doesn't clean things up; he just digs in, lets the emotion flow, and tells you exactly how he feels. As a result, tunes like "Black Nanny," "Ask Her for Water," and "Let the Church Roll On" have the sort of rawness and honesty that are missing from some of the slicker blues albums of the 21st century. Equally memorable is Ford's performance of Wolf's "Back Door Man"; although this Chicago blues standard has been recorded countless times, Ford manages to make the tune sound vital and alive rather than worn out and overdone. Bad Man (which is Ford's fourth Fat Possum outing) may not be the most innovative or groundbreaking release of 2002, but it certainly doesn't come across as contrived or formulaic either. And it's a disc that is easily recommended to anyone who likes his/her electric blues rugged, unpolished, and totally sincere.


Born: 1924 in Greenville, MS

Genre: Blues

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

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist T-Model Ford (James Lewis Carter Ford) played a raw-edged, visceral style of blues from the Mississippi Delta, accompanied much of the time by his drummer, Spam (Tommy Lee Miles). Ford caught a break when he opened up on a national tour for Buddy Guy and his band, playing respectable theaters and some festivals, but he was chronically under-recorded. He began playing guitar late in life and hadn't really toured much outside the Mississippi Delta until the 1990s and...
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Bad Man, T-Model Ford
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