Billy Boy Arnold: The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold

Album review
Billy Boy Arnold: The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold

Billy Boy Arnold

The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold

Label: Stony Plain
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop

Cool, grooving soul and blues with a Chi-town flavor by one of the last remaining masters of Windy City blues, The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold (produced with a heated, electric ambiance by Duke Robillard and featuring Robillard’s band) broke big out of the gate at blues radio, thanks to terrific workouts on warhorses such as “St. James Infirmary.” Duke and company give the song a jazzy groove—Duke showing the way with his full-bodied, economical soloing—and 79-year-old Billy Boy lays into that groove vocally with a vibrancy uncommon to this dark tale and then gooses the arrangement higher with a propulsive harp solo. A grinding, foreboding cover of B.B. King’s “Worried Dream” is 7:35 of deep blue anguish that Billy Boy brings home with a vocal so resigned and sorrowful as to make a listener ache for him. On the upbeat side, Arnold scorches a jump blues treatment of Louis Jordan’s “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” a lively outing boasting a spirited monologue on the 88s courtesy of Bruce Bears, and delights in the sly, salacious “rubbing” he extols in his stomping original, “What’s On the Menu Mama.” Sounds like 79 is the new 20.

More Info

  • primary artist, Billy Boy Arnold

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