Recently, we told you about the latest album from Lurrie Bell, on which he and brothers Steve, James and Tyson (dubbing themselves The Bell Dynasty) paid tribute to their late, harmonica-blowing father Carey Bell. Now that same record label celebrates its 65th anniversary with a compilation that follows much the same approach: 11 tracks presented by current or recent artists on the Delmark Records label as individual tributes to some of the musicians who recorded for the company during the 1960s and ’70s.
This includes one more track for their father from Lurrie and his brothers (accompanied again by Eddie Taylor Jr. on guitar), who display every bit the fire here on “One Day You’re Gonna Get Lucky” as throughout their own recording, with other real gems coming from the likes of Omar Coleman (a funky take on Junior Wells‘ “Train I Ride” that gets the album off to a great start), Jimmy Johnson and Dave Specter (an “Out of Bad Luck” that honors Magic Sam), Linsey Alexander and Billy Flynn (a soulful, swaying tribute to Jimmy Dawkins in “All for Business”), and Lil’ Ed and Dave Weld (who present a stinging “Speak My Mind” in memory of Ed’s uncle J.B. Hutto).
That’s not to say that the rest of Tribute: Newly recorded blues celebration of Delmark’s 65th Anniversary isn’t darn good also, with Demetria Taylor belting out a gravelly, Koko Taylor-ish take on “Riverboat” in tribute to Big Time Sarah; Jimmy Burns delivering a low-key, solo acoustic performance of Big Joe Williams‘ “She Left Me a Mule to Ride” in the vein of David “Honeyboy” Edwards; a gritty, raw version of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Broke and Hungry” from Corey Dennison and Gerry Hundt in honor of Sleepy John Estes; a soulful cover of Otis Rush‘s “So Many Roads” from Mike Wheeler; Shirley Johnson‘s breathy take on “Need Your Love So Bad” for Bonnie Lee; and Ken Saydak adding deep, Elvin Bishop-like vocals to the closing boogie woogie piano blues of “Boot That Thing” in tribute to Roosevelt Sykes.
Wheeler and Flynn both join on guitar for several additional numbers, along with Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, while Melvin Smith (bass) and Willie Hayes (drums) lay down the rhythm throughout the project, with Hank Ford on tenor sax for a pair of songs (“Train I Ride” and “All for Business”) and Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi tickling the ivories on “Out of Bad Luck”.
While the influences are much more obvious on some tunes (such as, for example, those from Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Junior Wells) than others, each of the artists does a terrific job interpreting the songs in his or her own way in order to give them an entertaining, contemporary sound. Together, it makes for a superb compilation that nicely demonstrates the continuing rich history and talents of the Delmark label.