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CD REVIEW -- Lurrie Bell
GLT blues radio

LURRIE BELL

Can’t Shake This Feeling

Delmark Records

Lurrie Bell CD art

By Mark Baier

Lurrie Bell’s latest recording for Delmark, Can’t Shake This Feeling, finds Bell and Co. doing what they do best -- throwing down the most authentic Chicago Blues imaginable. Supported by his regular band, Roosevelt Purifoy, keys; Matthew Skoller, harp; Melvin Smith, bass; and Willie Hayes on drums, Bells rips off a baker’s dozen of self-penned and classic hidden charms that showcase his inimitable guitar style and tortured vocals. Recorded in three days at Delmark’s Riverside studio with noted producer Dick Shurman at the helm, Can’t Shake This Feeling is a moment captured in time documenting Chicago’s best blues band at the height of their power.

 

Bell kicks off CSTF with the original “Blues Is Trying To Keep Up With Me.” When he sings “I hope something right will inspire my life today,” his hopes and desires for a better life face off with the realities of the lifetime of blues and struggle. However, he evokes such a sense of strength in the face of weariness and despair that the song is elevated far beyond a rote shuffle blues number. Bell’s connection with the blues is near transcendent, his understanding of it complete in every sense.

 

Though Bell contributes a handful of original selections, the majority of songs on CSTF consist of Lurrie interpreting the masters. Eddie Boyd gets a turn with “Drifting”; it’s charging guitar and harmonica figure providing the fuel for a tale of lovesick and lonesome blues. Bell’s impassioned vocals and Matthew Skoller’s masterful harmonica steal the show. Bell’s take on T-Bone Walker’s “I Get So Weary” transforms a fairly nondescript Walker tune into a Lurrie Bell tour de force. Very little of Walker’s jazzy urbane song is left after Bell’s inspiring and impromptu guitar work. It’s doubtful that Bell’s exhilarating guitar style could ever be duplicated. It’s a direct connection to the soul of the blues.

 

Lurrie and Matthew Skoller get back to basics with the acoustic track, “One Eyed Woman,” a Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis song that Bell undoubtable heard from the source, probably while sitting on the front porch as a child. Things take a minor turn on “This Worrisome Feeling In My Heart,” with Bell and company wrenching out every last drop of heartache. Willie Dixon and Little Milton are represented on “Sit Down Baby” and “Hold Me Tight,” and Bell finds himself conjuring the Lord’s absolution on Lowell Fulson’s classic “Sinner’s Prayer”. The tunes will be familiar and fresh, peppered with Bell’s uninhibited guitar work. Bell’s own “I Can’t Shake This Feeling” and Buster Benton’s “Born With The Blues” are straight ahead and down low, evoking the Kingston Mines at its finest after-hour. Lurrie visits his father’s trickbag with “Do You Hear” and mines Willie Dixon’s chestnut, “Hidden Charms.” Lurrie makes each song his own thanks to his seemingly effortless, irresistible guitar playing. The coda of CSTF is the original “Faith And Music” featuring Bell playing solo on his electric guitar. The performance is free and natural, capturing Lurrie in a moment in time, the music flowing through him like a font from on High.

 

Clearly Lurrie Bell has no choice in the matter. When the blues catches up with him, his confessions are our treasures, and they’re the testimony of a unique artist trying to keep one step ahead of the Blues.


About the author: Mark Baier is a blues historian, guitarist and president of the Victoria Amplifier Company. He is a self-declared: "legitimate master of time and space" who uses his transcendental abilities to "function as a modern day oracle for the betterment of mankind."

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