R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Buddies In Blues

07 SEP 12 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins had an extraordinarily long career and was one of the last Delta bluesmen who could claim a kinship, personally as well as stylistically, with Robert Johnson. His last recording, the Grammy-winning Joined At The Hip, was a collaboration with friend and fellow Muddy Waters bandmate, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith.

Born in 1913, Perkins began his career as a guitarist but after an arm injury switched to piano. He joined Muddy Waters in 1969 and remained with the band until the early '80's when he, Smith and some other bandmates left to form their own group, The legendary Blues Band. Smith played drums in the Waters band, but here he sings, plays blues harp and wrote the majority of the 13 tracks. Keeping it in the family, Smith's son plays drums on the session.

Much has been made of the musical rapport between the two old friends and fellow sidemen and, in this case, it's no exaggeration. Perkins piano melds seamlessly with Smith's harp and vocals, filling in between phrases as only two seasoned vets who happen to be able to read each others' minds can do. From the opening track, "Grown Up To Be A Man" to the closing "Eyesight To The Blind," their simpatico creates barn-burning energy without fighting for space.

Aside from the historical significance of these two giants of American music, this release shows us why the blues will always be with us -- it's full of life and deep emotional truths while at the same time being just plain fun.