Blues is just a shuffling beat with a whole lot of soloing over top of it and some old guy whining out annoying vocals.
Normally, if someone said that to me, I’d explain the diverse emotions that go into playing the blues, and probably accuse the person of being uninformed. Also, depending on how nasty I was feeling that day, I might call them a name or two that had either the word stupid or the word mother leading the way.
If someone would have dropped that definition of the blues on me earlier this morning, just after I listened through the re-release of Homesick James’ 1993 album, Got To Move, I might have said, “Yeah, unfortunately, that can sometimes sum it up.”
Homesick James, who is thought to be over 90 years old now, is the cousin of the late, great bluesman Elmore James. Elmore’s early electric slide blues gives a lot of root to modern southern rock like the Allman Brothers among others. On this release, Homesick—if that is his real name—shows a little of the talent that his cousin possessed, but also shows that he is stuck in the old days.
The general sound of Homesick’s guitar is annoying. It sounds like something out of the early 1950s, with a very sharp, biting tone and no reverb. The licks are the same licks we could have heard from a hundred dead bluesmen, including the aforementioned Elmore James. Sure, Homesick probably plays because he loves playing the blues, and has for years, but it still does not make for a recording worth listening to more than once.
A bunch of the tunes contained on this disc were done in the past by Elmore James, which once again leads to a comparison, which is not a pleasant comparison for Homesick. He does a pretty good job of keeping “That’s Alright,” and “Highway 51,” from being too lame, and his vocals on both tracks are intense. As for the better part of the rest of the album, Homesick’s constant wailing makes me a little stomach sick.
This guy is still performing at 90. Not bad. However, the novelty of—or potentially inspiring event that is—seeing someone from a long past generation in a live concert setting is lost on this particular recording.
// Notes from the Road
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