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Will Roy Sanders

The Last Living Bluesman

(Shangri-La Projects)

Claiming to be the last living bluesman is a little much, but Will Roy Sanders is definitely one of the last of his kind. His kind plays the blues with a repetitive chordal feeling, usually with one guitar, and usually without a whole lot of variety from tune to tune. It’s a style that was all but forgotten until the release of the Robert Johnson box set in 1990. It is also a style that should not be, and probably never could be, imitated by anyone who isn’t less than a decade away from worrying about death from old age.


On this album, Will Roy plays his way through a bunch of mediocre tunes, none of which make him stand out as anything more than a guy who knows how to play the guitar and sing at the same time. His voice is middle-of-the-road, and his presence on tape is passable, but the way the liner notes pump him up, I almost expected to hear the voice of God coming out of my headphones.


One upside of the album is that it contains the original recording of Crosscut Saw, by Sanders’ Binghampton Blues Boys, which was later covered by Albert King, and eventually, Eric Clapton. It’s all kinds of scratchy, with the cracks and hisses and who knows what else, but this swiped from vinyl recording is definitely the highlight of this album.


Now, my main problem with this album, and albums from similar artists.


Sometimes, the new world of blues wants to get its newest stars from some image of greatness, and not necessarily from a talented musician. Don’t get me wrong, Will Roy Sanders is talented, but it seems to me that this release takes his image as an old bluesman and works completely off of that image.


As a testament to this, the record company has not only released the CD, but a book to go along with it, (at $6.95 American,) and apparently, a documentary motion picture with the same title as the album. After listening to The Last Living Bluesman and reading the book, I don’t know that I’d even want to see the movie, and I would not be willing to recommend this album to anyone who wasn’t a die-hard blues fan. Even then, I’d be moderately hesitant.

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