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The Well *
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Album: The Well *
# Song Title   Time
1)    Rambler's Blues
2)    Dig the Pain
3)    Well, The
4)    Where Hwy 61 Runs
5)    Sad and Beautiful World
6)    Sonny Payne Special
7)    Good Times
8)    Just You, Just Blues
9)    Cadillac Women
10)    Hoodoo Queen
11)    Clarksdale Getaway
12)    Cook County Blues
13)    Sorcerer's Dream
 
Product Details
Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Charlie Musselwhite (vocals, harmonica); Dave Gonzales (guitar); John Bazz (upright bass, electric bass); Stephen Hodges (drums, percussion).
  • Audio Mixer: Jimmy Hoyson.
  • Recording information: Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA; The Compound, Long Beach, CA.
  • Photographer: Stefan Falke.
  • "Rambler's Blues," the shuffling hip-shaker that opens Charlie Musselwhite's The Well, is the most autobiographical statement he's ever made -- until you listen to the rest of the record. Despite his large catalogue, this is his first record of all original material. Musselwhite's back with Alligator after a sojourn of 14 years, during which he recorded some stellar material for various labels, including the stellar Delta Hardware for Real World in 2006. Musselwhite is accompanied here by a stellar band: guitarist Dave Gonzales, bassist John Bazz, and drummer Stephen Hodges. His own harmonica playing and vocals are everywhere and top-notch. The most compelling thing about The Well is its lack of pretension; Musselwhite has risen to the task of recording a completely autobiographical album that refuses easy clich‚s, or resting on laurels; its energy is infectious. This happens even on "Sad and Beautiful World," where he addresses the murder of his 93-year-old mother in her home during a burgluary. With duet help from Mavis Staples, he tells the story unwaveringly in an uptempo shuffling jump that evokes his lifetime obsession with the road, the blues, and his deep sadness over such a senseless and brutal loss. (His harmonica solo, punctuated by Staples' sung gospel-like responses, expresses volumes.) The jazz-blues of "Dig the Pain," addressing his willing participation in the misery of alcoholism, is a dirty love song without irony. The title track is a strutter about the inspiration he gained from Jessica McClure, a young girl trapped in a Texas well who sang nursery rhymes to herself as consolation until she was rescued. He gets down deep inside his brand of roadhouse blues to make sure nobody feels anything but admiration for Ms. McClure while revealing what he learned from the experience. (Impressed by her courage and ashamed at his lack of it, Musselwhite quit drinking that day, 22 years ago.) Other tracks, such as "Cadillac Women," "Good Times," "Cook County Blues," and "Just You, Just Blues," address different aspects of a bluesman's life -- perhaps all bluesmen's lives -- in fingerpopping, ass-shaking manner. "Hoodoo Queen," and "Sorcerer's Dream," are obsessive sense impressions from Musselwhite's personal and roiling, brooding blues language. Other knockouts are "Sonny Payne Special" and "Clarksdale Getaway," instrumental harmonica strutters that simply stomp. The Well is different from any recording Musselwhite's done before, but it also represents him and his experience of the blues in a singular and profound way. It's damn near perfect. ~ Thom Jurek
Professional Reviews
Living Blues (p.38) - "'Dig The Pain'...is a breezy acoustic swinger, laced with good-natured irony and featuring full-toned harp work from Musselwhite..."
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