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Bennie Smith: Shook Up

St. Louis bluesman Bennie Smith sings with old-school authority while displaying raw six-string appeal on Shook Up. The 68-year-old Smith displays uninhibited gusto on the hard-driving shuffle “I’m Tore Up” and on raucous, off-kilter covers of “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” and Memphis Slim’s “Wish Me Well.” He also rips it up on the album’s two instrumentals, “Buddah-ba” and Gatemouth Brown’s “Okie Dokie Stomp.” Smith’s highly eccentric but heartfelt version of “Drown in My Own Tears” opens with a fanfare from “The Star Spangled Banner,” and his unaccompanied balladic closer, “I’m Wondering,” is as bizarre as it is beautiful. Wholly unpretentious and unpredictable stuff.

Originally Published