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The Duke Robillard Band "Low Down And Tore Up"
Any decent introduction to Duke Robillard would really take far to long for just an album review, so let's just say that Duke Robillard is to music, especially the Blues, as meat and potatoes is to a rancher. Duke has been plying his trade for many years and quite a few of them have been with Stony Plain Records, of which "Low Down And Tore Up" is his 18th release for them.
"Low Down And Tore Up" consists of 14 great Tracks, all of which are covers drawn from 9 iconic blues men, and were picked by Duke Robillard for 2 reasons. The first one being the that these tunes were the ones that inspired him and ones that he often played. The second reason was that they were songs that Duke really enjoyed and not because of their popularity. In most cases some of the songs that Duke has used on his albums were ones that most people have never heard of, but they were great songs, never the less.
The main premise behind "Low Down And Tore Up" was to reintroduce us to the great music of the 40's and 50's, not only capturing the songs, but also the drive and the atmosphere of that time as well. Duke Robillard and his band managed to do that by just heading to the studio and recording live, just like it was done in the old days, especially by the smaller labels. His ever present band mates for this release included Bruce Bears (Piano), Brad Hallen (Acoustic Bass), Max Teixeira (Drums). Additional musicians on various Tracks included Matt McCabe (Piano), and the always great Sax Gordon (Tenor/Baritone Sax). As always Duke Robillard also produced this album with Holger Petersen as Executive Producer.
As mentioned earlier, the songs of 9 iconic blues men were used for this album and included 2 songs each from Guitar Slim, Tampa Red, Sugar Boy Crawford, Pee Wee Crayton, and Elmore James. The remaining covers were from Eddie Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy McCracklin, and Bobby "Blues" Merrill. Now no doubt there are some names here that everyone knows, but there are also less known artists represented on this album and that is just the way that Duke Robillard wanted it. Even the songs from the more well known artists are ones that are not often heard, therefore giving most of us the treat of hearing them for the first time.
As one can only expect from Duke Robillard and his band, the music on "Low Down And Tore Up" is about as authentic as you can get. Duke Robillard really knows his music and how to bring great sounds from the past, back to the future, while still insuring it's trueness. "Low Down And Tore Up" certainly shows off that skill of Duke and company.
Trying to pick a few favorites off such a solid and entertaining album is not an easy task, but there were a few Tracks that caught my attention slightly more than the rest, which were John Lee Hooker's Want Ad Blues and Elmore James Tool Bag Boogie. Super great Guitar/Sax work on Want Ad Baby and equally great Piano/Sax work on Tool Bag Boogie.
"Low Down And Tore Up", once again, shows that Duke Robillard is incapable of disapointing us, regardless of what genre of music he intends on playing, especially the Blues. His mastery of music, along with his band, should all certainly show us why he is headed for, if not already, Legendary Status.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
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