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Bare Knuckle

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Album Review

Bare Knuckle is the first Guitar Shorty album to appear in four years. He won the W.C. Handy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for We the People in 2006. That record, which showcased his rugged, showy style of electric blues in a variety of song settings — not the least of which were his originals, which had a socio-political bent — sent blues fans to the record stores in droves. This set picks up where We the People left off, with the killer “Please Mr. President,” which pleads for Mr. Obama to “lay some stimulus on me.” There is no irony in the lyric. The man’s serious as cancer and it shows in his biting leads, his shouting vocal, and the everyman tone in his delivery. Produced by longtime bassist Wyzard, Shorty is backed here by keyboardist Alex Alessandroni, and drummer Harold Seay (with the exception of two tracks where Alvino Bennet, his former skin man contributes). There are alternating rhythm guitarists and a guest appearance by Keb' Mo’ playing acoustic rhythm guitar on the aforementioned cut. Other fare here is diverse, such as the funky reading of James C. Johnson’s “Too Hard to Love You” with flipped-out-sounding psychedelic organ and electric piano sounds. There’s also the reggae-blues(!) of “Slow Burn," written by Wyzard, Vida Simon, and Jon Tiven. It sounds twisted, but Shorty’s vocals are soulful, and his lead guitar stings against the bubbling rhythm section, so it works. The other two Shorty-penned numbers are the straight-ahead shuffle on the good-time “Texas Women,” and the rumbling Chicago-styled “Too Late,” which contains some of his most emotive lead work on the set. The album closes on “Temporary Man,” an updated, growling, Delta-esque roadhouse rumble, written by Dennis Jones. Guitar Shorty's live show is never captured on record and that’s a shame, but his records have their own wild and woolly charm, and Bare Knuckle is another example of what he does best after 50 years in the blues biz.

Customer Reviews

Ageless Wonder

Shorty is back with another guitar shredding blues rock disc. Unlike most fans of G.S., his 'We The People' release was somewhat of a disappointment to me. With this release, he's back to his style on 'Watch Your Back', IMO his best release since signing with Alligator Records. 'Bad Memory', 'Texas Women', and 'The Sting' are standouts. As Shorty often says to his guitar, "C'mon Red, talk to me" It's definitely talkin to me!

One of the Greats

Bare Knuckle is a good representation of a Chicago-style blues master. This is my favorite album of one of my favorite blues guitarists. When Guitar Shorty played live here in a club a couple years ago, he brought the house down, and it's something I'll never forget. He took his guitar off the stage and went out into the street and played, and returned only to jump up on the bar and play the length of it. He didn't miss a beat. He's quite a showman and a great guitarist.

The best in blues

Guitar Shorty is one of the best hands down in blues


Born: September 8, 1939 in Belhaven, NC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

When he's not turning somersaults, doing backward flips, and standing on his head -- all while playing, of course -- Guitar Shorty is prone to cutting loose with savagely slashing licks on his instrument. Live, he's simply amazing -- and after some lean years, his latter-day albums for Black Top, Evidence, and Alligator have proven that all that energy translates vividly onto tape. Born David Kearney on September 8, 1939, in Houston, TX, he started playing guitar at an early age. His early influences...
Full Bio
Bare Knuckle, Guitar Shorty
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Customer Ratings