A truly unique individual with a sound all his own, Freddie Roulette breaks out his eight-string lap steel to wacky effect on Back In Chicago (Hi Horse 4044; 52:07). Backed by Chicago bar band veterans Willie Kent & The Gents, the ex-Chicagoan (and longtime resident of California) pushes the envelope on the blues with some dizzying technique and insanely inspired improvisations. He talks through his instrument on “Need Your Lovin'” while his work on the funky title track is purely hallucinatory. Imagine attending a Hawaiian luau on the South Side of Chicago…on acid. He puts his own original slant on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” and the Albert King signatures, “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” and “Laundrymat Blues.” His take on “Sleepwalk” is far more imaginative (and mind-warping) than Musselwhite’s version, and he kicks in a faithful (though slightly twisted) rendition of “Soul Serenade” to boot. It is safe to say that Freddie Roulette has no peers. No one on the planet-not even pedal and lap steelmeisters Hop Wilson or Sonny Rhodes-plays quite like this. Freddie really belongs in the hallowed ranks of such oddball geniuses as Skip James, Joseph Spence and Bongo Joe. For something truly and incredibly different, grab this CD.