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The Soul of John Black

The Good Girl Blues

(Cadabra; US: 2 Feb 2007; UK: 2 Feb 2007)

The red-gloved lady on the liner front evokes the old sexist “when she’s bad, she’s wonderful” line rather than any conventional goodness. As for the notion that John Bigham, the performer here, is delivering any kind of blues, far less the new take on blues which the blurb suggests, forget that! Somebody seems to have supposed that there’s not much to blues, with the result being very little (if anything) to this set of packaged minimalia. It’s not minimalism, the guy seems not to have supposed he needed to do much, other than a little tinkering with guitar tracks and drum programmes. “The Hole” does begin by echoing Blind Willie Johnson, but he never settled for one stanza and continual repetitions like “the hole, the hole”. When Bigham got there, he found only himself? Really? As much as that? The title track shows he’s heard Muddy Waters, but there’s something odd in a guy singing in overdub with three females in chorus with him that he (they?) need(s) a good girl. “Moanin’,” which isn’t any known tune by that name, isn’t even moanin’. It’s just wordless vocalising over acoustic guitar (there are surprisingly few different words on this for a mostly vocal CD). “Slipin (sic) and Slidin’” has spaceship gurgles, percussion and more acoustic. Does this sometime Miles Davis sideman think there’ s no more to blues than that? “One Hit” is musically pastiche gospel, with cowboy twang, about a woman whose “one hit too many” suggests there’s a right dosage of the stuff for which she’s been selling her body (which body the ungentlemanly Bigham distinguishes from fresh meat). “Deez Blues”, in a throaty high voice suggesting falsetto, might have been intended to make people laugh. I laughed. But I wasn’t happy. The last track is like the first called “The Hole”, but “(shorter version)”, which could only be an improvement. Sixty people are named in the inlay as having made this CD possible. Won’t wash, JB, don’t try to spread the blame!  Why isn’t this set called Insultin’ the Blues?

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