Steve Bailey – Crazy ‘Bout You – A Tribute To Sonny Boy Williamson
a p m Records
11 songs time – 49:37
Holding true to the time worn saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, Brit Steve Bailey and his band cover eleven of the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson’s songs. Ok, they aren’t really imitating anything here, rather paying tribute via presenting these songs in their own style. For the uninitiated Sonny Boy II represented here is actually Rice Miller or Alec Miller. He took the name of the original Sonny Boy to gain recognition. The original John Lee Williamson is renown for such classic blues songs as “Good Morning Little School Girl” and “Bluebird”. Sonny Boy II actually went on to become the more famous and remembered Sonny Boy partly because Sonny Boy I passed away at a rather early age. Among his repertoire Sonny Boy II left us with such iconic blues songs as “Help Me”, “Nine Below Zero” and “Fattening Frogs For Snakes”. His reputation as a heavy drinker, womanizer and all-around rascal are remembered about as equally as his harmonica skills and singing. Steve Bailey and band take some songs at a livelier pace than the original versions. Sonny Boy’s gruff vocal delivery and menace in his voice is missed, but the songs stand on their own as reimagined by Bailey and cohorts.
Bailey handles all the vocals and harmonica playing. Mississippi MacDonald is featured on lead electric guitar. Texas Joe Brown plays the drums. Phil Dearing plays guitar, piano and bass as well as producing the session. Steve is versatile in his harmonica playing. He knows what he is doing and does it well. Unlike some players, he doesn’t just play enough to show a little blues cred. This guy is up there with the best. That is not to slight his smooth vocal delivery. Some of Sonny Boy’s better-known songs are covered here. The avid Sonny Boy fan knows “Too Young To Die”, “Nine Below Zero”, and “Fattening Frogs For Snakes”. Even the lesser-known tunes are given the first-rate musical treatment.
Many of the songs are stretched out allowing for extended harp solos. “Mighty Long Time” features a pronounced country music loping beat. This recording isn’t just for Sonny Boy followers, it stands on its’ own as a satisfying blues experience. From the harmonica, singing, guitar and piano, everything gels here into something based on authenticity. Bands like this breath life into the blues.