Curtis Salgado And Alan Hager – Rough Cut | Album Review

Curtis Salgado And Alan Hager – Rough Cut

www.curtissalgado.com

Alligator Records

13 songs time-50:27

Long time soul-bluesman Curtis Salgado forgoes the full band approach here for a more sparse sound that harkens back to the hey day of acoustic blues. The funkiness in the delivery and content is here in abundance. In fact Curtis’s voice here occasionally easily passes for that of an old black blues singer from back in the day. It’s not an affectation. If I didn’t know who it was I would swear it was an old African-American blues icon. His harmonica playing drips with authenticity as well. From this starting point of a truly authentic sound, the album just draws you in and encircles you with blues goodness. Band mate Alan Hager provides the acoustic or mellow electric guitar accompaniment. It’s either this twosome or unobtrusive drums, bass and piano. The song selection is just about half originals by Curtis and Alan along with carefully chosen blues chestnuts. I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

Even on originals such as “I Will Not Surrender” they manage to conjure up a haunting and eerie vibe that takes one back to a dark blues place. Alan’s guitar perfectly compliments Curtis’s way cool vocal. That haunting quality continues on “So Near To Nowhere”. Curtis’s harmonica skidders all over the place. “One Night Only” sounds like it comes straight from a funky juke joint. Jimi Bott’s drums and Jim Pugh’s piano add to the vibe. The original “(I Want My Dog To Live Longer(The Greatest Wish)” owes a bit to the hokum tradition of the blues.

Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied” is an excellent interpretation of this classic tune. The drums and slide guitar skip along just nicely. Curtis captures the essence of Sonny Boy Williamson’s(Rice Miller) vocal and harmonica nuances on Sonny Boy’s “Too Young To Die”. Curtis captures the world weariness Son’s voice in Son House’s “Depot Blues”. Larhonda Steele adds secondary vocals to the gospel flavored traditional “Morning Train” to great effect.

In the original “Hell In A Handbasket” you can sense the beer soaked saw dust on the floor of a classic juke joint. Curtis accompanies himself on barrel house styled piano along with his cantankerous lyric delivery. The guitar instrumental “The Gift Of Robert Charles” starts off as a mournful tune then morphs into an upbeat gospel-tinged groove. You can hear the reverend preaching in the guitar notes. Upbeat harmonica, guitar and bass enliven Big Bill Broonzy’s “I Want You By My Side”.

Curtis and Alan take you as close to the hey day of funky old time blues as you can get without the use of a time machine. It’s hard to discern the real stuff from the spot-on originals without a score card. The crudeness in the playing of the old masters is captured here. That laid back feel good vibe permeates the entire recording. You can’t miss with this stuff. Put this on the player and close your eyes and transport yourself back to the old days in the Mississippi Delta.

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