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Various Artists: A Tribute to Willie Dixon

Another bunch of talented blues players convene for A Tribute to Willie Dixon (Telarc 83452; 52:33). The great Eddie Kirkland weighs in with a suitably earthy “Do Me Right” while New Orleans’ scruffy slide veteran John Mooney gets rowdy on “When the Lights Go Out.” Three other Louisiana natives-Tab Benoit, Kenny Neal and Sonny Landreth-contribute respectful tributes to the poet laureate of the blues. Benoit’s “Mellow Down Easy” is full of fretboard sizzle while the multi-instrumental Neal showcases some robust country blues harmonica on “Bring It On Home.” Landreth unleashes his signature slide chops on “Crazy for My Baby” behind vocalist Christine Ohlman, who returns to tear it up Koko Taylor style alongside John Ellison on “Wang Dang Doodle.” One of the most authentic-sounding Chicago grooves is laid down here by Eddie Shaw and company on their menacing rendition of “I Ain’t Superstitious.” Harmonica ace (and former Muddy Waters sideman) Jerry Portnoy rocks the house on the boogie instrumental “Shakin’ the Shack” while Luther Guitar Jr. Johnson and Ronnie Earl take a darker but no less dynamic path on the minor key dirge “My Love Will Never Die.” Another highlight is Gatemouth’s subdued but funky interpretation of “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” All of these great blues staples get a new suit of clothes on this affecting tribute to the Chicago blues legend.

Originally Published