Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise

Booked to perform during last spring’s Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Joe Louis Walker wound up inviting many of the other players on the week-long Caribbean cruise to join his band on stage. First up is Mike Finnigan, Taj Mahal’s organist (Mahal was also on the ship) with a lumpy “Slow Down GTO” that is most notable for Walker’s solid slide guitar. Johnny Winter next joins Walker for a slide guitar rave-up, then Curtis Salgado steps mic-side with a lovely, longing duet soul ballad that showcases his magnificent singing—a real highlight! The Tommy Castro band and sax-lady Deanna Bogart team up on a bouncy “Eyes Like a Cat.” And so it goes—seven more tracks and 11 more guests. Walker’s stunning playing on the slow and steady 12-minute “Sugar Mama” with Finnigan on organ is another highlight. “Born in Chicago” finds Walker with guitarists Nick Moss and Paris Slim, which makes it difficult to figure out who’s playing—my only complaint—as the liner notes don’t indicate who’s who. Ditto “747” with guitarists Tab Benoit and Paul Nelson. Walker’s Bosstalkers, without guests but with original bassist Henry Oden, get down on the closing track, “It’s a Shame (You don’t care).” Couldn’t make the trip? Here’s an economical solution.