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Sam Lay: Rush Hour Blues

Quintessential shuffle drummer Sam Lay, a Chicago blues stalwart since his late ’50s stint with Howlin’ Wolf, is back on the scene with Rush Hour Blues (Telarc 83482; 47:29). Simple, unadorned slow blues and shuffles are the basic theme here, underscored by Mighty Sam’s authoritative backbeats and earthy vocals. A charter member of the original Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Lay is backed here by Nashville guitarist/producer Fred James, a second hotshot guitarist in Larry Burton, keyboardist Celia Ann Price, upright bassist Bob Kommersmith and harmonica ace Greg “Fingers” Taylor. They turn in solid renditions of Chicago classics like Howlin’ Wolf’s “Baby How Long,” Jimmy Reed’s uptempo “I’m Gonna Shoot Her” and Muddy Waters’ “Blow Wind Blow” along with feisty originals like James’ “I Like Women” and Burton’s “I Got Two Women.” The Elmore James-ish title track rocks with vitality, proving that the 65-year-old Lay is still on top of his game.

Originally Published