Joe Louis Walker - Witness To The Blues
Aside from the dark acoustic blues of "I Got What You Need," most of "Witness To The Blues" is the kind of tepid, safe blues ala Duke Robillard. Which makes sense, since he produced this. Walker is a blues legend who doesn't really cut loose here, nor put an original stamp on any but that one track. Anyone could have sung the other ten.
"It's a Shame" and "Witness" are typical: a slight groove, tepid soul touches complemented by a slick but not very passionate solo. Robillard's band keeps a tight bottom, but does not swing. "Midnight Train" and "Hustlin" are lazy when they try to be soulful-plodding, as opposed to chugging, along. Still, given the state of blues today (at least outside of Mississippi and the Chitlin Circuit), slick blues is in so this may hit. And Joe Louis Walker is a hot player, just not here, not often enough. He doesn't so much make a mark as barely step out in front. Some of his other work, and certainly his hot live act, prove more of his chops than this release.
"Witness To The Blues," then, is an ironic title, as the music therein sounds more like that of a witness, rather than a participant with real experience.
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