Bob Margolin & Bob Corritore – So Far | Album Review

Bob Margolin & Bob Corritore – So Far

VizzTone Label Group VT SRR-06 /

13 songs – 46 minutes

Two of the deepest dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists in the blues, longtime friends Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore have been sharing stages together since the ‘80s and recorded tracks together on occasional compilation. But they join forces for a full-length CD for the first time ever on this set, which was done the old-fashioned way – acoustic and unamplified.

The duo met for the first time in 1974 when Margolin was in the midst of a seven-year run as the second guitarist in Muddy Waters’ band and they appeared at Corritore’s high school in suburban Chicago. Sharing similar musical sensibilities, they’ve worked together frequently since the harp player turned pro, most often at The Rhythm Room, the club that Bob C.’s been running in Phoenix, Ariz., since relocating West in the early ‘90s.

A Boston native who now calls North Carolina home, Margolin handles all the vocals and works magic on his trusty 1935 parlor guitar throughout backed by Corritore delivering the rich, full-bodied runs on diatonic that are his bread-and-butter. Their only assistance comes from a special guest: former Conan band leader and Tonight Show bandmate Jimmy Vivino who sits in on six-string on one cut and vocals on another.

Bob M. penned seven of the 13 tunes and also mixed and mastered this one with Bob C. contributing an original instrumental. The remaining five covers include four personal-favorite tunes culled from ‘40s and ‘50s Windy City blues along with Robbie Robertson’s “It Makes No Difference,” a number that has special appeal for the guitarist because after first playing it with The Band and Muddy during The Last Waltz concert in 1976 and then again with its vocalist, Rick Danko, in Finland a decade later.

“Steady Rollin’ On,” which opens the action, is an unhurried pleaser in which Margolin plays off his longtime nickname as he describes about searching out “the right or wrong” in his travels and reminisces about “songs and memories about generations long gone…” and noting “it’s too late to die young.” Vivino joins the action on guitar and the pace quickens noticeably for “Running Through High Water,” a percussive number that recounts awakening from a snooze and experiencing a nightmare so vivid that – like the title infers – it felt impossible to escape.

The music brightens a little for the somber “It Makes No Difference,” which compares never-ending troubles with being caught in a steady downpour. Bob C. works the high end of the reeds for this one with Jimmy lending his voice to double Bob M. on the chorus. Muddy’s lessons come through Margolin’s slide work on “Outrage and Inrage,” a complaint about tough times getting even tougher, before the uptempo “Now and Then,” a celebration of surviving a life well-lived that’s deeply imbued with the feel of the golden age of Chicago Blues.

The duo breathe new life into Memphis Minnie’s familiar “Broken Heart,” a tune she first recorded with Little Son Joe for Checker in 1953, before Corritore takes center stage and rips and runs through his self-penned instrumental, “Salt River Stomp,” giving his reeds an impressive workout. It gives way to “One Hundred Hearts Later,” which describes a meeting between a man who’s offered his soul to his lady but realizes it’s the last time they’ll be together because all she wants out of life is fun.

The Bobs continue describing unrequited romance by covering “Red Hot Kisses” — penned by Trumpet Records owner Lillian McMurry and a hit for Sonny Boy Williamson II in 1959 – next, which honors the memory of a first smooch with a woman who possesses “a cold, cold heart.” The memories continue in “What If?,” which finds Margolin speculating about how the way his life might have turned out as he recounts tripping on stairs at age 19 and cutting his hand badly on broken glass. Despite the injury – and stitches that followed, he insisted on playing a gig that night and 50 years more.

One more original, “Blessings and Blues,” expresses the desire to trade some of the best times the singer has enjoyed for better times now before two more familiar covers — Muddy’s “I Wanna Go Home” and Sonny Boy Williamson I’s “My Little Machine” – bring the disc to a successful close.

A pyrotechnic-free pleaser that will hit the right chord for anyone yearning for the good old days!

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