"This is my friend Harlan. He's not much to look at, but he's a great bass player."
Bell is a strikingly original blues guitarist,
and 30 year vet Terson is a great blues bassist. His pulsing,
deep-pocket grooves----and Lurrie's knife-edged guitar work----make
this a real feast.
Bell is a Chicago blues enigma. The son of harmonica giant Carey
Bell grew up living the blues dream, rubbing shoulders with such
notables as Son Seals, A.C. Reed and Big Walter Horton - but his
battles with homelessness and personal chaos have left some
observers wondering if Lurrie would ever find his own place in
the lights. Kiss of Sweet Blues erases those doubts.
Fifteen great songs created mostly by producer/sideman Dave
Specter ring true with excitement and a sense of purpose. Bell's
machine-gun fill style on guitar and his harsh tenor voice form
the centerpiece, and they're softened up just right by the fine
playing of bassist Harlan Terson and organist Rob Waters. The
sound is all Windy City, but Bell pushes the envelope to fashion
a more modern blues approach. He uses every available space to
squeeze in cascading shards of guitar notes, almost like a bebop
jazz player would do, and he never plays a sour note. It's as if
he doesn't need to worry about his fingers - he plays just as his
creative mind tells him to without translating to bones and
muscles. Hendrix did the same thing, as does Ray Charles. It's a
tremendous gift.The lyrics include glimpses of Bell's life. In
"Blues and Black Coffee," he laments that "The
blues and black coffee is my only friend/I live with so much pain
and suffering/The blues is trouble my whole life through/I'm just
trying to find some peace of mind." "Somebody Help Me"
seems to be another plea for understanding: "What is the
reason why I just keep on trying/I'm gonna give it all up, I'm
gonna lay back down here and die/Somebody help me because I need
a friend/Help me because I'm falling and I think I'm getting near
the end." But it's not all doom and gloom. The tide cut is a
happy, uptempo piece with cool lyrics about getting high on the
blues. "Lurrie's Guitar Boogie" is a choice
instrumental in the style of Albert Collins, with phenomenal
guitar flips and turns the likes of which are almost never heard.
Another guitar instrumental, "Lurrie's Funky Groove Thang,"
shows off some fancy high-life licks. It's great to see a
talented player like Lurrie Bell pull himself back from a hard
life and put out such an accomplished set of songs. Kiss of
Sweet Blues should help push him along on his journey to