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Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated

Castle CMRCD 1373 (2006)

Alexis Korner

'Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated' the third of Castle's excellent re-mastering of Alexis Korner's early recording career is the most problematical of Godfather of the Blues's early years. Unlike the previous two cd's this album taken on its original merits without the 6 bonus tracks, is a loose bluesy tinged jazz hotchpotch that doesn't really break any new ground.

The opening 'Blue Mink' for all its Theloneous Monk pretensions comes closer to an early career Frank Zappa outing rather than offering any meaningful new direction. On the following smoking slow blues 'Rainy Tuesday', Alexis at least has a stab at a guitar solo and with some success as horn player Art Themen adds support. But for the rest of the album, much of the material confirms critical gripes of the time that Blues Inc. was a bunch of jazzers involved in a side project.

There is of course much here to disabuse you of such views, with Alexis's lovely ode to his daughter 'Sappho' which swings quite beautifully as both guitar and piano play delightful solos before the horns take over. Yet Blues Incorporated was a project that originally aimed to go where others hadn't, didn't or couldn't. Yes, the playing is excellent throughout with Art Themen and Dick Heckstall Smith playing some sonorous and sinewy sax lines by turns and Phil Seamen is at times dazzling with some intricate percussive patterns as on the curious eastern drone of 'Preachin' The Blues'.

The band even kick out the jams on instrumentals such as 'Navy Blue', and 'A Little Bit Groovy', but you can't help but forget that in 1964 at the time of this recording, Alexis's contemporaries were already part of an exponentially growing r&b explosion. Two years after his death it seemed Cyril Davies early notion of a British blues band, had been high jacked by modern jazz musicians. For in s pite of belated return to basic r&b on the six bonus tracks, this album represented a pit stop rather than a meaningful leap forward for Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated.


Review by Pete Feenstra

Related>> R&B From The Marquee (review)

Related>> At The Cavern (review)

Related>> Anthology (review)

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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