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A new side to traditional blues

All Night Long
All Night Long
By Junior Kimbrough & the Soul Blues Boys

Fat Possum Records: 1992

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Deep Blues
Deep Blues
By various artists

Atlantic Records: 1992

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These reviews first appeared in the February 26, 1993 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

These two recordings, both produced by blues aficionado Robert Palmer, present a side of blues one just won't hear outside of Mississippi – contemporary juke joint blues.

And while many writers and even musicians worry that the blues is becoming a modern equivalent of Dixieland jazz in that the culture that birthed it no longer relates to it, the music found on these two discs is blues performed by African-Americans for African-Americans.

The soundtrack to the documentary of the same name, "Deep Blues" is a pretty comprehensive sampling of the modern blues scene of northern Mississippi. This set includes such artists as R.L. Burnside, Frank Frost, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes and Lonnie Pitchford. While the casual listener of the blues has probably heard only of Hemphill from the above list, Burnside and Frost are likely to become much more familiar.

Junior Kimbrough's CD (he also is represented by a track on the "Deep Blues" disc) is even more mesmerizing than the superb performances on the soundtrack. The overly loud, unmixed drums, bass and guitar pound one into happy submission the way a rock band will in a too-small club. Yet Kimbrough's vocals are clear and strong, and the music is, if different from what has been taught to expect, unmistakably the blues.