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Texas compilation a solid overview

Hot Rhythm & Cool Blues ... Texas Style
Hot Rhythm & Cool Blues ... Texas Style
By various artists

Topcat Records: 1993

This review first appeared in the Winter 1994 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

This compilation of contemporary Texas blues from new label Topcat Records contains some really hot music, even if most of the contributors are unfamiliar. The late Zuzu Bollin and Mike Morgan will be familiar via their releases on Antone's and Black Top, respectively, from which their cuts are drawn.

The (mostly) acoustic blues of the Texas Gypsies is reminiscent of the music of Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan. On one cut, Rodney Johnson handles lead vocals, while guitarist T. Buck Burns sings on "Saint Peter Have Mercy." Fellow guitarist Slip Clay joins Burns for some great acoustic solo swapping in a contemporary, accessible blues format. Another acoustic track is the traditional-style "Dog Don't Bite" with Robert Ealey on vocals and Tone Sommer on acoustic slide.

Even if you've never heard of Pat Mason, Joe Jonas, Cricket Taylor or Bugs Henderson, once you've heard them you're likely to be impressed. Mason is a stellar guitarist, with a sharp edge to his playing – and vocals and harp to match. Jones has a rich, baritone voice, with which he sings Kansas City-style blues a la Joe Williams or Big Joe Turner. Taylor sings blues the way Lou Ann Barton and Angela Strehli do – with lots of Texas heat and sass. Henderson is a powerhouse electric guitarist of the Stevie Ray Vaughan/Lonnie Mack/Kenny Neal mold, and plays an uptempo blues here.

None of the cuts are bad; there isn't a dog in the bunch. This is a solid introduction to one slice of the Texas blues scene.