Blues & Boogie, Vol. 1

I’m pleased to say that unlike my bleak assessment of Kim Wilson’s 2016 release—Strong Like That, which featured the harpist with the Fabulous Thunderbirds—his latest is a superb album. Blues & Boogie finds him fronting various personnel in a program of mostly classic Chicago blues by such stalwarts as Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James and others. Sixteen tracks (four of them Wilson’s) run the gamut from Big Maceo Merriweather’s plaintive “Worried Life Blues,” with terrific piano accompaniment by the late Barrelhouse Chuck, to Wilson’s own up-tempo Elmore James-ish “Searched All Over” (great slide guitar by Billy Flynn who also shines on Little Walter’s “Teenage Beat”). Wilson is in magnificent form throughout, singing and playing with the kind of energy we’ve come to expect from this seasoned blues veteran and which was so absent on Strong Like That. So, here we have Volume 1; can Volume 2 be far behind? Wilson, who produced the album, says this “is the first of many to come.” Harp fans are hereby alerted!