R.L. Burnside – Bad Luck City (1993)

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NICK DERISO: Burnside, a Holly Springs, Miss., native, was already father to 12 boogie chillen when he put out “Bad Luck City,” and that’s exactly what they do here.

From sons Dwayne on guitar and Joseph on bass, to son-in-law Calvin Johnson on drums, everything is cozy and cool. That vibe is carried throughout this riffy batch of originals and well-chosen covers.

Yes, you’ll hear Burnside’s rowdy rendition on this — his debut, issued on Fat Possum — of the legendary blues workout “Boogie Chillen.” We discover another take on “Killing Floor.” But also the first flowerings of a new signature sound in north Mississippi blues on cuts like “Talkin’ About the Ghetto” and “My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble.”

And they don’t stop. There are precious few moments during the whole of “Bad Luck City” when these guys cool off. There aren’t even run-out grooves to speak of between tracks.

It makes for a roughly hewn, you-are-there feel — one that underlines this brood’s unique gift for groovy improvisation. You’ll find a smidge of electric-period Muddy Waters mixed liberally with the acoustic alchemy of Son House, and something new entirely.

Burnside arrived almost fully formed with this one.

Purchase: R.L. Burnside – Bad Luck City

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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