Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Two blues-rock lifers here, Maritime favourites, team up for the first time on this fiery tribute to slide master Elmore James. James was loud, loud, and his songs lend themselves to the rock side of the equation, and these two fit that bill. Nicholson long been regarded as having one of the best sets of pipes to fill the bars and halls of the East Coast, from his days in Horse and Oakley and through his solo years. Campbelljohn is a multiple award-winner for his guitar prowess, and a festival favourite. It's an inspired match.

The James songs have lost none of their power over the years, and never seem dated. The duo keep all the grit the songs require, and bring in a few surprises to the arrangements. "I Believe" gets a reggae groove, powered by Kim Dunn's organ (another East Coast all-star there). "Rollin' and Tumblin'" gets even deeper and nastier than most versions, Nicholson and Campbelljohn growling at each other, duelling in voice and slide. "Shake Your Money Maker" turns into a showcase for the band, with shout-out solos for bassist Bruce Dixon, drummer Neil Robertson and pianist Barry Cooke.

The pair goes for some deeper cuts from the James catalog, including "Sunnyland" and "Knocking At Your Door," while avoiding adding another cover of "Dust My Broom" to the overstuffed pile. With 12 James songs in the can, they couldn't pass up an opportunity to write a couple themselves, and both "If I Was Blue" and "Dancin' With The Blues" feel right at home. Simply put, blues fans: Great singing, great guitar playing.

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