Album review: “Spider In My Stew” is another blues gem from Bob Corritore

There must be a massive pipeline running from a big old 1950ish Chicago blues refinery somewhere that flows directly into the recording studio of harp-master Bob Corritore. The man never fails to create a fine album, filled with classic Chicago-style blues, played by some of the best remaining practitioners of that art.

“Spider In My Stew” (VizzTone, May 14) is his latest effort, packed with tough blues from a stellar cast of artists who know how to deliver blues that actually sound like the blues.

I may be revealing here that I’m very partial to traditional blues music. Some very fine musicians are working very hard at moving beyond that level, and I enjoy a lot of their music as well. I just like the traditional stuff more. It’s kind of like the old saying about whiskey: “There’s no such thing as bad whiskey; I just like some better than others.” (And I admit, I don’t even know if that’s true, but it sounds kind of impressive.)

But I digress.

Corritore’s latest is filled with great blues from a handful of guests showing off their chops with mostly classic tunes, and a couple of fresh ones. Plus the unusual choice of a Bob Dylan track — “I Shall Be Released” — to wrap things up. There are 38 talented musicians making up the complete roster here.

The vocalists include Oscar Wilson of the Cash Box Kings, Sugaray Rayford, Alabama Mike, Diunna Greenleaf, Lurrie Bell, Shy Perry, Johnny Rawls, John Primer, Willie Buck and Francine Reed.

Here is the track list, and who sings what:

  1. Tenessee Woman (feat. Oscar Wilson)
  2. Big Mama’s Soul Food (feat. Sugaray Rayford)
  3. Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You (feat. Alabama Mike)
  4. Don’t Mess With the Messer (feat. Diunna Greenleaf)
  5. Spider in My Stew (feat. Lurrie Bell)
  6. Wang Dang Doodle (feat. Shy Perry)
  7. Drop Anchor (feat. Alabama Mike)
  8. Sleeping With the Blues (feat. Johnny Rawls)
  9. Mama Talk to Your Daughter (feat. John Primer)
  10. Why Am I Treated So Bad (feat. Francine Reed)
  11. Soon Forgotten (feat. Willie Buck)
  12. I Can’t Shake This Feeling (feat. Lurrie Bell)
  13. Look Out (feat. Alabama Mike)
  14. I Shall Be Released (feat. Francine Reed)

This album, another in a long series of star-studded Corritore outings, is just one fine blues after another, starting with Wilson’s powerful “Tennessee Woman.” Rayford rolls out a delicious “Big Mama’s Soul Food,” and it’s one of my favorites. Another highlight is the still smooth and soulful Rawls sensuous take on his own composition, “Sleeping With The Blues.” Primer updates the old R&B-flavored J.B. Lenoir song, “Mama, Talk to Your Daughter,” and Buck turns in a tough version of Muddy Waters‘ “Soon Forgotten.”

The blues roll on through 13 sparkling tracks, and the album winds up with Francine Reed lending her potent pipes to Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” and while it didn’t exactly roll directly out of the blues refinery pipeline, it somehow manages to sound just right as a closer.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is a real deal, downhome blues album, another little gem from Bob Corritore. Give it a listen.

By the way, the song “Spider in My Stew” was written by the prodigious and prolific Willie Dixon in 1973, with a popular version recorded by Buster Benton.

Here’s the title track, by Lurrie Bell:

Here’s the list of who is playing what and when and with whom. Impressive.

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