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Right To Sing The Blues

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Album Review

One of the founding fathers of the '60s British blues scene, Long John Baldry owns one of the great white blues voices, a power that remains undiminished for Right to Sing the Blues. The disc forms another consistent Baldry primer visiting the rich diversity of blues styles, from the quiet folk-blues of "Whoa Back Buck" (longtime colleague Papa John King tearing up his slide guitar) to jump blues party tunes like opener "They Raided the Joint." Vocal sidekick Kathi McDonald also carries the torch, especially on an incendiary title track already highlighted by a scorching Colin James guitar riff. On occasion, the tall one is too much the mannered gentleman for the good of his muse. It would be nice to hear him bust loose more frequently, as he does on "I'm Shakin'," his pipes sounding like gargled nails with an Irish Cream chaser. It would also be nice to find him writing again. While mostly recognized as a judicious interpreter, Baldry has proven his capability over the years, and the complete absence of self-penned material strikes one as borderline laziness. He even dips back to a tune already covered on a previous release — Bonnie Dobson's classic "Morning Dew" — albeit giving it a fresh Cajun/Zydeco coat of paint. In case dependable, honorable music isn't enough incentive on its own, the disc earns bonus points by concluding with a 23-minute interview in which Baldry recounts his take on the British blues scene. Not exactly flashy multimedia, but a nice addition for fans of pop music history.


Born: January 12, 1941 in England

Genre: Blues

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

Like Cliff Richard, Chris Farlowe, Slade, Blur, and eel pie, Long John Baldry is one of those peculiarly British phenomena that doggedly resists American translation. As a historical figure, he has undeniable importance. When he began singing as a teenager in the 1950s, he was one of the first British vocalists to perform folk and blues music. In the early '60s, he sang in the band of British blues godfather Alexis Korner, Blues Incorporated, which also served as a starting point for future rock...
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Right To Sing The Blues, Long John Baldry
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