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Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson: Redux: Live at the Keystone Korner

Most fans of the late, great Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson will tell you he was a kickass alto sax player who also happened to sing. I hold that he was one of the great blues shouters of the past century who also happened to blow a kickass sax. No matter which Cleanhead camp you’re in, you’ll find plenty to like about Redux: Live at the Keystone Korner (Savant), captured in San Francisco in January 1979, nine years before his death at age 70, but never previously issued. Arguably the closest Vinson ever came to recording a “greatest hits” album, this 10-track set serves up richly satisfying versions of “Kidney Stew,” “Cherry Red” and “I Took the Front Door In” (better known to Vinson devotees as “Back Door Blues.”) It also shows off Vinson’s cunning sense of humor with the fictionally autobiographical “They Call Me Mr. Cleanhead,” which espouses that his shiny pate resulted from too many female admirers rubbing his head. (His baldness was, in fact, the result of an unfortunate experience with a lye-based hair straightener). And for those who prefer their Cleanhead sax with no vocal chaser, get set for a “Back at the Chicken Shack” that outwails any you’ve heard and a joyfully boisterous “Tenderly” that is sheer heaven.

Originally Published