CD Review:Joe Louis Walker’s Blues Conspiracy: Live on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise

Dear readers, fellow cruisers and friends, every now and then stuff hits ya like a brick, and that’s what the October 2010 LRBC did. It was just so fantastic that I am barely recovered, and it’s Friday !

So what do I see in my mailbox when I get home ? The latest release from Joe Louis Walker, recorded on the January 2010 Bluescruise from Stony Plains Records. As Cedric Burnside would say “Well, Well, Well . . . “

Guess I better just stop trying to fight off the after-effects and pick up where I left off on the boat, turn the music up and hit it and stick it.

An eleven cut release, it follows Joes’ highly successful Between A Rock and A Hard Place, which won the BMA for Blues Album of the Year (09). It features guest appearances by some of today’s finest Blues artists around. Who you may ask, check this out:
Johnny Winter, Curtis Salgado, Watermelon Slim, Tommy Castro, Mike Finnigan, Duke Robillard not enough ? Well let’s add to that, Deanna Bogart, Nick Moss, Paul Nelson, Keith Crossan, Tom Poole, Tab Benoit, Kirk Fletcher, Kenny Neal, Jason Ricci ahhh . . . let me think here, oh yeh might as well go full monty on this, Todd Sharpville, Mitch Woods and Paris Slim. OK I did it, full exposure.

For the kick off we are treated to ‘Slow Down GTO’, a paean to fast cars and the thrill of them. Featuring Mr. Mike Finnigan on organ, they rip thru the song like a hot car on a summer night shattering the sound barrier and breaking all the artificial rules of the road and blues music. With the starting light behind us we are treated to some of the finest guitar work from Mr. Johnny Winter that I have heard in awhile on ‘Ain’t That Cold’. It would appear to me that Johnny is much more comfortable playing alongside Mr. Walker than holding court on his own, his licks are sweet, hit percentage right up there and you can tell from the sound that it’s cooking in the kitchen.

Speaking of cooking, the soul stew of Curtis Salgado & Mike Finnigan join Mr. Walker for ‘You’re Gonna Make Me Cry’ and it drips with down home soul revival stew, both Curtis & Mike have the best soul drenched voices around. If I skip some cuts it’s only because I don’t want to be a tell-all review here, trust me there ain’t a bad cut on this baby.

One highlight (amongst them all) is the Jason Ricci, Nick Moss and Paris Slim version of ‘Born In Chicago’. As Mr. Walker so aptly puts it at the end of the cut after thanking Jason, “you’re killing them baby” ! Oh hell, the next cut features Watermelon Slim killin’ his slide guitar (and harp) and Joe Louis standing up in his own right as they play off of one another and bring it right down to the bone on ‘Sugar Mama’.

I attended two of the recording sessions on the boat this past January and was knocked out by the skills that were on display, but never thought that the recording would be able to capture the sound and fury of these performances. Through the entirety of the release we hear Mr. Walker’s vocals and guitar playing at the top of their game. This encouraged and challenged his guests to step up and deliver as well. It is also nice to hear some of the word play between the artists as they perform together – sorta like an insider’s seat at that special table.

The crowd responded, the artists responded and so will you when you listen to this seriously good release. Flashbacks from the January cruise are not the responsibility of the artist, label or reviewer, but sit back and dig ‘on ’em.

Oh wait just in case you need one more little enticement to get your sweaty hands on this baby – photos on the package are from fellow cruiser and one of the best Blues photographers, Joe Rosen, now go out and get it !

Until Next Time
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

photos courtesy: Artist, Leslie K. Joseph
© 2010