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Mooney offers taste of Big Easy

Telephone King
Telephone King
By John Mooney

Powerhouse Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the Fall 1992 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

After a long recording hiatus, John Mooney has two albums that have recently become available. "Telephone King," originally issued independently in 1983, has now been reissued by Powerhouse Records. (A new album, "Late Last Night," is available from Rounder Records.)

Mooney has moved to New Orleans shortly before recording "Telephone King," but the evidence offered here suggests he absorbed much quickly. "Wibble Whim She When She Walk" owes more than a slight debt to Professor Longhair (as does Bob Cooper's piano work). The rest of the material also has an indelible print of Louisiana stamped on it.

A better vocalist than guitarist, Mooney has surrounded himself with a strong cast on this recording, reducing the need for him to attempt guitar-slinger heroics. Instead, we get tasteful, restrained passages on guitar that complement his singing and songwriting quite nicely.

While this album lacks the polish of his most recent effort, it captures a rawness and vitality that fans of musicians such as Snooks Eaglin and Allen Toussaint are likely to appreciate.