Lazy Lester All Over You

Bluesman Lazy Lester Performs “Nothing But the Devil” (premiere)

Recorded live in performance for NPR in 1998, “Nothing But the Devil” ably captures the spirit and soul of Louisiana bluesman Lazy Lester.

Antone’s and New West Records have announced a 25th-anniversary edition of Lazy Lester’s All Over You for release on 10 November 2023. The record, remastered by Jim Wilson and Matty Alger, will make its debut on vinyl and features a solo, live performance of Lightnin’ Slim’s classic, “Nothing But the Devil” as a bonus track

Recorded live for NPR in 1998, “Nothing But the Devil” ably captures the spirit and soul of Lazy Lester. It feels like a song recorded in a much earlier time, unburdened by contemporary production flourishes, unhurried in its approach. The performance is a portrait of a master musician at the height of his powers. His impeccable vocal phrasing and intonation combine with his clocklike guitar playing to give the listener an unforgettable listening experience. Bonus material for reissues can sometimes feel like needless add-ons at best and, at worst, can subtract from the pure joy and surprise of the original recording. That’s not the case here, as this performance of “Nothing But the Devil” is the worth the price of admission alone.

Issued in 1998, All Over You is seen as one of the crowning achievements of his career. The LP features Derek O’Brien (who produced the album) and Sue Foley on guitar, Sarah Brown on bass, Mike Buck on drums, and Gene Taylor on piano, with Lazy Lester taking up vocals, guitar, and harmonica. 

It is possible for some that this reissue will be an introduction to Lazy Lester. As introductions go, it’s a worthy one, filled with memorable performances from the entire band, a group of players equal in standing to the bandleader who fall easily, naturally, into the intuitive language of the blues. There’s nothing less than honesty about the LP as a whole, and it stands as a testament to Lazy Lester’s standing as a preeminent musician. 

All Over You features newly recorded renditions of some of Lazy Lester’s Excello sides, a label he recorded for in the 1950s and 1960s before ultimately leaving the record industry for a time, re-emerging in 1987 with the aptly named Rides Again. He died in 2018 at the age of 85.