One mighty 70-year-old
Mighty Joe Young is 70 years old going on 40. The man literally looks half his age, and plays younger than that. And yet, now into his eighth decade, Young has yet to gain the kind of fame or fortune one of his talent deserves. Which is our loss as well as his.
Most folks have never heard of will never hear of Mighty Joe Young. His soulful brand of R&B-influenced blues is sexy, hip and fun in short, far better than nearly everything the masses are fed on the radio.
The thought of going through life thinking Mariah Carey is as hip as it gets pretty much provides a definition of the word "tragedy." Outside of B.B. King, music like this just can't get past the yuppie scum who run America's commercial radio stations.
Due to a pinched nerve in his spine, "Mighty Man" took Young 10 years to finish. You hate to say something trite like "It was worth the wait," because that would downplay the suffering he's been through and dismiss the fact that for 10 years there has been no new Mighty Joe Young album. Yet it's a heck of a good album; if not worth the wait, then certainly worth the price.
The liner notes by Justin O'Brien claim Young's guitar isn't as good as before his spinal surgery but you can't tell by listening. Perhaps as with Sinatra who only came into his own as a singer after he'd lost his voice the loss of physical skill has forced Young to dig deeper inside when he plays.
Whatever is going on, his guitar playing is sharp, incisive, soulful. His solos bite again and again; if anything, Young has more to say musically now than before.
It's too bad so few people will have the opportunity to hear that message.
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