12 Tracks-Running Time/43:32
Latest in the dynasty of Beale Street monikered Bluesman is Preston Shannon, AKA, The King Of Beale Street. Shannon is a journeyman Memphis Bluesman with Frankenstein chops. Dust My Broom is his sixth release, two of which were produced by the mythical Memphis sound collaborator, Willie Mitchell.
This production showcases the artist in two settings. Seven tracks are from studio sessions in Memphis. Five are live tracks produced for radio in Europe. In both settings the sheer artistry and power of Preston Shannon purely shines. Of course, the Memphis sessions are adorned with first call players; Billy Gibson (harmonica), Jackie Clark (bass, keyboard, drums), Kirk Smitheart (slide guitar), Michael Aarons (slide guitar)and Harold Smith (rhythm guitar). The horns are arranged by Donald Hayes.
The European live radio tracks features Preston Shannon backed by Fat Harry and The Fuzzy Licks, a rockin’, Rotterdam based unit that is also the go to European touring band for Joe Louis Walker, Tail Dragger, Craig Horton, Chick Rodgers, Sax Gordon and John Primer.
Both settings are outstanding. The Memphis sessions make use of Elmore James material by covering songs that James either wrote or helped make popular. Shannon re-imprints “Done Somebody Wrong,” “It Hurts Me Too,” “Look On Yonder Wall,” “The Sky Is Crying” and the title track, “Dust My Broom.” With the addition of slide guitarists Smith
and Aarons, the presence of Elmore James original work is still felt while Mr. Shannon freely explores the realm of his deep well of guitar and vocal prowess. Though traces of B.B. and Albert King can be recognized in his guitar attack, his sense of improvisational timing is largely his own. His vocals are soulful and strong. Despite sonic comparisons to Otis Redding and Bobby Womack, Preston Shannon sings like, well, Preston Shannon. The Memphis Sessions are rounded out by one composition each from Rev. Gary Davis, Muddy Waters and Hound Dog Taylor.
The Live At Lloyds European radio tracks were recorded two years ago. In addition to the Fuzzy Licks core unit, Preston has added a crack horn section and the fabled Henry Oden on bass. The set adapts two songs written by Don Robey and one by Prince. It also contains only performance written by Shannon, “The Way I Love You.” The surprise track of the whole project is the arrangement of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Employing Tina Turnerish phrasing and Prince’s mincing yelp, Mr. Shannon effectively remains true to the original yet convincingly appropriates it as his own.
With only one Preston Shannon written song possibly more original compositions may have made the total project more balanced.
Summarily, Mr. Shannon’s solos are tasteful straight ahead urban blues with the right touch of country delta inspiration. Injected with spurts of classic R&B and even Pop influences, Dust My Broom is a great listening experience. Hopefully there is yet more in store.