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Waxed - Record Review from Issue #8 March-April 1997

Mike Henderson & The Bluebloods

First Blood (Dead Reckoning)

This record is not, per se, about sex. In fact it may be one of a mere handful of new releases that doesn’t use the F-word, and it’s even absent the lesser scatology common to traditional blues. Pop rockers in it to get girls would nevertheless do well to listen up to the voice of experience. By a few bars into opening track of First Blood, your booty’s on notice it’ll see action for the duration, and at the excruciating moment the rhythm section finally comes in on Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig”, your libido is begging for mercy.

There’s no dirtier drumming this side of a strip joint than at the business end of John Gardner’s sticks, and both Glen Worf’s raunchy bass and former Stevie Ray Vaughn sideman Reese Wynans’ keys unlock more than your heart. It’s Mike Henderson’s masterful guitar and vocals, though, that really get the juices going. The way he plays that slide is likely illegal in several states.

Henderson’s best known among liner-note hounds for his work with Kevin Welch, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris and Delbert McClinton. Nashville residents also know him as a bluesman from Monday gigs with the Blue_bloods at the Bluebird. The band’s visceral treatment of tasty blues standards inspired Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler to pen the liner notes for this release.

First Blood covers the familiar territory of a virtual Chicago Blues Hall of Fame: Sonny Boy William_son, J.B. Hutto, Otis Spann, and most-often-quoted slidemeister, Elmore James. Henderson & the Bluebloods pump these classics full of more raw honky-tonk energy than you’ll find in many Chicago blues clubs. They follow a narrower path on the traditional “Pony Blues”. Henderson’s solo slide-and-vocal intro harkens back to the railroads and swamps before those guys with amplifiers mucked up the music with their 12- bar math.

Another standout is “Pay Bo Diddley”, which Henderson recorded with the man himself in a predecessor band to the Blue_bloods. Bo Diddley gets paid every time it’s played. Diddley Daddy indeed.

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Originally Featured in Issue #8 March-April 1997

Cover of Issue #8 March-April 1997

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