Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau - Lead Belly's Gold

Published Saturday 8th October 2016
Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau - Lead Belly's Gold
Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau - Lead Belly's Gold

STYLE: Blues
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 161943-24011
LABEL: Stony Plain

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Few folk blues artists have had a bigger influence on the music world than the legendary Huddie Ledbetter (otherwise known as Lead Belly) and this sumptuous tribute album from US acoustic bluesman Eric Bibb and French harmonica player Jean-Jacques Milteau doffs its cap to the blues and folk music giant. For the most part recorded in front of a live audience, Lead Belly's work is given an energy that pulls the listener in - not least thanks to a delightfully urgent vocal performance from Bibb and some creative percussion work from Larry Crockett whilst Milteau explores the full spectrum of the humble blues harp to great effect. As you would expect, more famous Lead Belly tunes like "Rock Island Line", "Good Night, Irene" and a thumping version of "Midnight Special" take pride of place but it's in the arguably less famous Ledbetter songs such as "Stewball" and "Titanic" that we really get the full picture of the man's colossal storytelling talents. Elsewhere, fine versions of "On A Monday", "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (the latter two featuring cameo vocals from Big Daddy Wilson) reflect Lead Belly's occasional incarceration, work life and awareness of his maker respectively whilst "The Bourgeois Blues" is a brave and chillingly direct denunciation of the colour cast system of the time that unfortunately still rings true today. Slotting seamlessly in amongst the songs of their hero, a handful of Bibb and Milteau originals are included to act as a biography of certain parts of Lead Belly's life whilst in-depth notes - duplicated in French for Milteau's home fan base - shine yet more light on this most important of folk blues exponents.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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