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Long John Hunter: Swinging from the Rafters

A guitar slinger from the old school is West Texas legend Long John Hunter. Supported by Austin aces Derek O’Brien on guitar and Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff on sax, augmented by a four piece horn section and his Abilene-based touring band The Walking Catfish, Hunter frolics like a young fool on the aptly named Swinging From The Rafters (Alligator ALCD 4853; 56:58). Long John’s debut single came out on the Houston-based Duke label in 1954. He waited 38 years before putting out his first album and gained wider recognition with last year’s Alligator, Border Town Legend. Things remain rough and tumble on this raucous follow-up. Hunter’s twangy, hollerin’ vocals compliment his pungent guitar work on heated shuffles like “Time And Time Again” and “Bugs On My Window.” There’s a taste of New Orleans in “Stop What You’re Doing” and a touch of go-go beat funk on “Take It Home With You” and “I’m Broke.” He deals from the Delta on the downhome acoustic blues “In The Country” and gets frisky on the raunchy “Locksmith Man,” featuring some cool blues harp by Kaz. Long John is a particularly effective story teller on a slow blues like “Both Ends Of The Road.” He conjures up a mellower Percy Mayfield vibe on “Love Prevails” and conveys a playful sense of humor on tunes like “V-8 Ford” and “Walking Catfish.” Another great outing by the best kept secret from the Lone Star State.

Originally Published