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Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Live On

All blues guitarists and most rock guitarists, for that matter, have been touched in some way by Albert King. Shreveport, Louisiana’s Kenny Wayne Shepherd reveals a bit of that menacing string-bending influence (by way of Jimi Hendrix and SRV) on Live On (Giant/Reprise 2-24729; 55:03). Clearly aimed at a rock audience, this pumped-up big budget production is still blue to the bone. Strip away the wah-wah pedals and layers of distortion guitars on “In 2 Deep” or the throbbing disco backbeats of “Was” and you got the blues. Shepherd’s band pulls off a faithful rendition of “Them Changes,” the Buddy Miles-penned anthem for Jimi Hendrix & Band Of Gypsys.

Another blast from the past is a metalesque remake of Peter Green’s hit for the original Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Well,” replete with flailing wah-wahs and mondo crunch chords. Kenny Wayne plays the SRV card here and on the rough roadhouse shuffle “Shotgun Blues” and the Hammond B-3 fueled “Losing Kind.” He stakes out more original territory on “Every Time It Rains,” which is underscored by some Delta styled dobro work by the young guitar hotshot, and on the churchified title track. Slide guitar killer Warren Haynes mixes it up with Shepherd on “You Should Know Better.” Shepherd closes out his third project for Giant on an intimate note with the lyrical instrumental “Electric Lullabye,” tipping his hat to SRV’s “Riviera Paradise,” Jimi’s “Little Wing” and Albert King’s bluespower along the way. A solid, searing, soulful offering by a serious talent.

Originally Published