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Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson: Talkin’ About Soul

Talkin’ About Soul finds Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson in far more animated and versatile form than he’s appeared on recent recordings. Backed by a pumped-up band, including David Maxwell on piano and organ, Crispin Cioe of the Uptown Horns on alto, tenor and baritone saxes and Tom “Bones” Malone on trombone and trumpet, Johnson’s third outing on Telarc blends funk and soul with his own aggressive West Side Chicago blues sensibility. Highlights include faithful renditions of Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman,” Sam Cooke’s “Somebody Have Mercy,” Willie Mabon’s “Poison Ivy” and the Isley Brothers’ funky anthem “It’s Your Thing.” His guitar stings in Freddie King fashion on the shuffle “Lonesome Whistle Blues”, then he goes down to the Delta on a deep blue acoustic duet with harmonica ace Jerry Portnoy on “Ramblin’ Blues.” And he acquits himself in a typically aggressive West Side Chicago manner on his originals “Suffer So Hard With the Blues,” “No Worry No More” and the shuffling closer “I’m Gone.” This is easily Johnson’s most inspired outing in years.

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