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Lil’ Ed Williams: Who’s Been Talking

Kent can also be heard prominently on his more raggedy-sounding joint project with guitarist Lil’ Ed Williams, Who’s Been Talking (Earwig 4941; 53:26). The two alternate vocal duties on a number of originals, interspersed with tried and true blues classics. Williams’ slide playing is more vicious than ever, in that raw, wild tradition of his uncle and mentor J.B. Hutto. That ripping abandon comes out in full force on two Elmore James numbers-the instrumental “Bobby’s Rock” and the slow blues “My Bleeding Heart,” in which Kent delivers a particularly impassioned vocal performance-and on a version of Hutto’s “Newspaper Blues.” Kent cleverly turns the mournful minor key Albert King classic “As the Years Go Passing By” into a bouncy shuffle-boogie. And though Kent is credited here for “I Want to Get Married,” it is in fact the very same tune that B.B. King recorded way back in 1961 for the Crown label. He does redeem himself for that indiscretion, though, with his moving tribute “My Life, My Love.” Credit for this generally tight-sounding old school session should also go to Allen Batts on piano and Cleotha “Baldhead Pete” Williams on drums. Their vital contributions help transform this date into a cohesive, interactive ensemble recording, the kind you don’t hear too much these days.

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