VT Reviews Robert Lockwood

Robert Jr. Lockwood "Just the Blues" BULLSEYE BLUES 9623

(www.rounder.com has this to say about Robert Lockwood)

Guitarist extraordinaire Robert Jr. Lockwood is one of the few bluesmen whose career has spanned the entire history of the genre, from his early travels with Robert Johnson, to session work with Chess in the 1950s, to jazz-inflected club dates in the 1970s. On these recordings, culled from his two albums for Rounder Records with Johnny Shines, Robert explores many shades of the blues, from acoustic duets with Johnny, to the funky "Here It Is, Brother" to blues guitar showpieces like "Blues On the Hour."

Robert Jr. Lockwood, vocal, electric and acoustic 12-string guitar / Johnny Shines, electric and acoustic guitar / Carl "Ace" Carter, piano / Peter Haskin, Bobby Marcus, alto saxophones /Harold D. Arnold, Sr., Paul Combs, Maurice Reedus. El., Sr., tenor saxophones / Harold D. Arnold, Jr., electric piano / James C. Garrett, bass / Wirtford Core, Jimmy Hoare, drums / Scott Billington, chromatic harmonica / J.K. Terrell, congas, percussion (end text quote)

01. Hangin' On               4:08
02. Stake a Claim            4:11
03. Razzmadazz               2:57
04. Here It Is, Brother      3:35
05. For You My Love          3:22
06. Mean Mistreater          2:09
07. Rockin' Free             2:35
08. We're Gonna Ball Tonight 2:41
09. Blues on the Hour        5:15
10. Mister Blues             1:59
11. I Gotta Find My Baby     3:09
12.  Just the Blues          4:27

7 of the 12 tracks are from the album "Hangin' On" Rounder 2023 which was once cited by Johnny Shines as the album to find his best guitar work.

The remaining 5 tracks come from "Mister Blues is Back to Stay" Rounder 2026.

Both these albums were at one time listed as Robert Jr. Lockwood and Johnny Shines albums.

"Just the Blues" is released as a Robert Jr. Lockwood CD - so the tracks selected "feature" Lockwood "more" - all 7 tracks from "Hangin' On" (1,3,4,6,8,11 & 12) have Johnny Shines on guitar - the 5 tracks from "Mister Blues..." (2,5,7,9,10) do not have Shines.

The most interesting tracks (for me) are the 4 acoustic duet tracks between Shines and Lockwood (3,6,8,11).

Shines named "Razzmaddazz" (on this CD), "Big John", "Early In the Morning", and Lonesome Whistle" when citing "Hangin' On" in the article from "Guitar Player Magazine"

"Razzmadazz" an instrumental, is indeed very worthwhile - Lockwood plays the acoustic 12-string and does most of the rhythm work - Shines plays the lead (6-string acoustic) mostly single line work - but the interaction and interweaving is a marvel (strangely enough this kind of reminded me of the duets between Bert Jansch and John Renbourn)

"Mean Mistreater" has vocals - and features Lockwood's great rhythm on 12-string acoustic - Shines tastefully fills on interweaving lead.

"We're Gonna Ball Tonight" - another vocal of Lockwood - his vocals are charming but not really his strong point - Lockwood's strong suite is his guitar playing especially rhythm playing (which seems to be a lost art these days). Shine has a much better and more powerful voice but obviously is not featured on this CD.

"I Gotta Find My Baby" - Lockwood sings (see above) - marvelous rhythms playing some slide from Shines then mostly single line lead.

On evidence of these tracks - especially Razzmadazz - I really would like to hear those other tracks cited by Johnny Shines from "Hangin' On" ie: "Big John", "Early In the Morning", and Lonesome Whistle" - I may have to break down and get that cassette of "Hangin' On"

For Lockwood's lead guitar work - the title track "Just the Blues" has Shines doing the back up and Lockwood coming to the front - the gimmicky keys solo kind of spoils things. From "Mister Blues..." - "Rockin' Free" and "Blues on the Hour" both have Lockwood playing 6-string electric - now you can hear why he's the legend that he is on guitar - tasteful and swings like mad.

Overall this CD is recommended - a nice mid-price issue - picking the tracks that "feature" Robert Jr. Lockwood.

Perhaps Rounder plan to issue the remaining tracks from those 2 Lockwood/Shines albums as a Johnny Shines CD?

Vincent vt_Vincent@hotmail.com


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