Johnny King & Friends – Call It Confusion
Sol Island Music
12 songs time – 56:12
Clifton Forge, Virginia native Johnny King and a cast of tens assembled this project with a combination of new and/or older sessions. Johnny sings and plays guitar, wrote or co-wrote eleven of the songs, as well as producing the proceedings. A vast array of musicians contributed, too many to list, but the end result is very satisfying. Johnny’s gruff vocals and aggressive blues guitar attack covers a varied spectrum of music, be it blues, roots music, New Orleans R&B or combinations of the above.
Johnny and his cohorts dive in feet first on the title track with guitar, Bobby Rush’s harmonica and the horn section merging for a full frontal attack. Buddy Miles’ drums were reclaimed from an earlier set of sessions. Another of the reclaimed tunes is “Lyric Fountain Station” that begins life as Southern Rock before switching to trumpet-fired Salsa music. New Orleans “mythology” has been mined for songs ad infinitum, as seen in “Savannah Red”. The horn driven vibe is fine, but I find the lyrics a bit on the lame side. Johnny’s vocals are intertwined with the gospel choir Roanoke Voices Praise Team on “Oh My Captain”. The acoustic guitar and Bobby Rush’s harmonica lend a haunting quality.
A prominent bass line moves through the instrumental “That’s It” along with organ and biting electric guitar. TC Coleman unleashes a blues shuffle on this one. Muscular B3 organ and the horns permiate “Recognition Blues”, a plea to be noticed by a woman. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, New Orleans stalwart George Porter on bass and Shannon Wickline of The Charlie Daniels Band support Johnny as he gives testimony to his life’s mission on “God’s Own Blues”. Rush, Coleman and King deliver a sermon on “Political Blues”.
Coleman and The Dirty Dozen blaze through the funky jam of “Freedom Freedom” that features jazzy B3 organ. An old Buddy Miles vocal is exhumed for “Itchin’ At The Root” that also includes some fine organ playing. “Walking Water Blues” alludes to the fact that much of our human bodies consist of water. In my opinion Bobby Rush’s version of Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee” takes the wind out of its’ sails as he drags out the original groove.
Johnny King has delivered a project that mostly works. Being an assertive singer and ace guitarist doesn’t hurt one bit. He has assembled quite a crew that integrates new recordings with a few older tracks. The blues is good news!
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