Album Reviews

Johnny Tucker

Seven Day Blues

Artist:     Johnny Tucker

Album:     Seven Day Blues

Label:     HighJohn

Release Date:     2.9.2018


When traditional blues cats like Bob Corritore and Big Jon Atkinson get involved in a project, it demands attention simply because there is not enough of this kind of solid, traditional blues being played today. This time they collaborate with veteran bluesman Johnny Tucker, whose lineage traces back to the early ‘60s as a vocalist, and later a drummer, with Philip Walker’s band in Los Angeles. Remarkably, the old-school approach of this recording could just as easily be from that same time.

Tucker has a rather interesting backstory. Born as the tenth of nineteen siblings to a seasonal sharecropper and his wife, you tell right away that he’s lived the pain and experiences he sings about.

Although the album, his second for the label, was recorded in a series of sessions last year, all tracks were done live with all the musicians in one room. across the fifteen originals that Tucker penned for close to an hour of listening. Tucker is indeed the real deal—a blues shouter from a seemingly past era, smoother than, but still reminiscent at times of Howlin’ Wolf with his growls and shouts, urging on the players. Vaunted bluesmen Kid Ramos (one track) and Bob Welch (two tracks) join as well. Harmonicist Try Sandow handles six tunes while Corritore does five of them. Big Jon Atkinson not only plays guitar on eleven and bass on three, but served as producer and engineer. The core band also includes guitarist Scott Smart and drummers Malachi Johnson and Marty Dodson.

The album is a mix of a classic R&B sound and Chicago blues with a neo-retro Sun Studio-tube-amp feel that gives his “big as outdoors” vocals the warmth of the live setting. All musicians set up in one room with vintage gear while Tucker provided the vision for each song, and them captured directly, live to tape. Whether it’s the jump and shout of “Talkin’ About You Baby” or the Chicago blues of “Tired of Doing Nothing” or the greasy “Do-Right Man,” Tucker lays it all out there like the best of the raw, gritty bluesmen. Other highlights, (with no filler) are the title track and the slow burning anguished closer, “You Can Leave My House.” Bring on more Johnny Tucker. Seven days of blues is just not enough.

—Jim Hynes

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