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April 1998

Johnny Copeland
Live in Australia
Black Top Records

Fallen bluesman Johnny Copeland demonstrates a passionate intensity on Live In Australia (Black Top 1139; 44:29). A fine document of his 1990 tour of the land down under, it highlights the Texas bluesman in a tight set of downhome blues covers and gospel-flavored originals. His soulful vocals are most effective on the raucous Bobby Blue Bland shuffle "Further On Up The Road," a moving, churchy rendition of "Ain't Nobody's Business" (dedicated to Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sarah Vaughan) and his own tormented testimony, "Cut Off My Right Arm." Copeland cuts loose with some signature stinging guitar licks on a tough version of Elmore James' bouncy "Look On Yonder Wall" and a bone-chilling rendition of Tampa Red's mournful slow blues, "Love Her With A Feeling." He gets nasty on a rollicking version of Nappy Brown's "Wella Wella Baby" and swings lithely on his buoyant shuffle "Excuses." Johnny Copeland continued playing, recording and touring until finally succumbing to a congenital heart defect in July of 1997. This disc as well as 1988's Ain't Nothing But A Party (Rounder) demonstrate the electricity that Copeland could generate in concert.

Originally published in April 1998
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