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Pinetop Perkins/Hubert Sumlin: Legends

Two Delta-born blues veterans, Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin, join together in a program of classics on Legends (Telarc 83446; 5539). Unfortunately, both are notable for being sidemen to legends Perkins with Muddy Waters, Sumlin with Howlin’ Wolf. As frontmen, neither one generates the sparks of their former employers. Backed by Annie Raines on harmonica, Doug Wainoris on guitar, Rod Carey on bass, and Per Hanson on drums, these blues elders turn in rather tame renditions of “Got My Mojo Working,” “Rock Me Baby,” and Gatemouth Brown’s “She Walks Right In.” Sumlin’s electric guitar is hideously out of tune on his own “Nutcracker” and “Pinto Beans and Blackeyed Peas,” and his vocals are no less irritating on Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying.” And at age 85, Perkins hardly summons up the kind of menace needed to pull off a tune like Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man.” Pinetop does radiate the 88s on his own boogie, “Take It Easy Baby,” and he luxuriates in a slow blues on his tribute to a pianist comrade, “Sunnyland Slim.” And Sumlin manages to pull it together for passable, if tame, renditions of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” and Jimmy Reed’s “Shame Shame Shame.” But the rest is fairly forgettable. Perkins is better served by last year’s Born in the Delta (Telarc) and Sumlin’s raucous tendencies are better channeled on last year’s I Know You (APO). But I’ll pass on this.

Originally Published