Back to the Black Bayou

Louisiana Red is the nom de plume of Iverson Minter, who was born in Alabama and raised by his grandmother in Louisiana after his mother died a week after he was born—some of the background that he mentions in “I’m Louisiana Red,” the disc’s autobiographical opener. Now 77, he’s been living in Germany since 1981, which accounts for his rather low profile Stateside. Like a lot of bluesmen, he migrated north, first to Pittsburgh, then on to Chicago. He moved to Detroit in the late ’50s and worked with John Lee Hooker, then recorded for a variety of labels. A terrific slide guitarist (one of his early aliases was Elmore James Jr.), here he rips it up à la James on “Crime in Motion”; evokes Muddy Waters on his marvelous “Sweet Leg Girl”; and really puts the heat to the beat on “The Black Bayou,” a “Catfish Blues” clone. He wrote all the songs and his “Too Poor to Die” (he dreamed about dying) has lines like, “Couldn’t afford a casket, embalming was high so I jumped off my bed, too poor to die.” “At the Zanzibar” is another slide rave-up with Kim Wilson adding his hot harmonica to the mix.