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Jimmy Vivino: Do What, Now?

Two accomplished guitarists who suffer from CVT (Caucasoidal Vocal Tendencies) are Jimmy Vivino and Bob Margolin. Vivino, the house guitarist and arranger for TV’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien, joins with Al Kooper, drummer Anton Fig and bassist Harvey Brooks on Do What, Now? (Musicmasters 01612-65157-2; 51:59). And while his Albert King-influenced guitar work is noteworthy, his vocals ultimately come up short. His choice of material-Percy Mayfield’s “Strange Things Happenin’,” Elmore James’ “Stranger Blues,” Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Too Tired,” Muddy Waters’ “Little Geneva”-only helps to underline his vocal deficiencies. Margolin, former sideman to blues icon Muddy Waters, displays some cool slide work and urgent blues guitar licks on Up & In (Alligator ALCD 4851; 52:30). His vocal limitations only deflate his guitaristic triumphs here. Octegenarian pianist Pinetop Perkins lends his barrelhouse style to “She And The Devil,” “Not What You Said Last Night” and “Later For You.” Margolin pulls off some cool slide work on “Why Are People Like That?” and Snooky Pryor’s “Goin’ Back Out On The Road,” and the Chuck Berry influence shines through on the revved up title track, though it too is hampered by weak vocals. His remake of the Gladys Knight & The Pips hit “Imagination” sounds like a dark “Wang Dang Doodle.” And his raucous original “Blues For Bartenders” just might catch on with mixologists. On “Coffee Break,” Margolin finally gives it up to real deal singer Sweet Betty. On his next outing he should be wise enough to do more of that.

Originally Published