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Chris Thomas King: Red Mud

A highly personalized take on the age old blues tradition is offered by Chris Thomas King on Red Mud (Black Top 1148; 54:13). The son of Baton Rouge bluesman Tabby Thomas-who owns and operates the town’s premier blues club, Tabby’s Blues Box-young Thomas King has done a radical about-face with his Black Top debut after flirting with high decibel blues-rock on previous outings. I recall one memorable record company showcase at Tabby’s Blues Box several years ago in which Chris seemed like he was trying to become (The Artist Formerly Known As) Prince of the blues, summoning up the spirit of Jimi Hendrix with a stack of amps, a solid body electric guitar and effects pedals. In this stripped-down unaccompanied setting of dobro and National steel guitar, he summons up the spirit of early Delta pioneers. And on two songs, “Come On In My Kitchen” and “Ramblin’ On My Mind,” he tips his hat to the king of the Delta, Robert Johnson. He turns in a chilling version of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues” and is joined by Tabby for a remake of his father’s 1962 Excello anthem “Hoodoo Party” and on “Bus Station Blues.” Rack this one alongside other neo-blues traditionalists like Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart and (when he’s not pandering to pop audiences) Keb’ Mo’.

Originally Published