Review: Paul Lamb and Johnny Dickinson – Playin’ With The Blues

Posted on: Monday, Jul 20, 2009

PL and JD


“Playin’ With The Blues”

Now here is a marriage made in heaven – two of Britain’s finest blues and roots musicians together on a wonderful album, recorded last year on their tour together – after not being in touch for some 15 years! A phone call from Johnny Dickinson, a founder member of Paul Lamb’s great band, The King Snakes – led to the duo putting some songs together which led to a Spring tour last year.

And what a ball they have . . . Johnny’s marvellous voice and guitar work coupled with Paul’s customary brilliant harmonica work – here totally acoustic, with of course many of his trademark influences such as Sonny Terry and Big Walter Horton present. The 12 tracks on offer are recorded totally live with no overdubs or mixing – just straight from the desk!

For anyone who attended the shows this is surely a ‘must have’, as, in a totally spontaneous and relaxed manner, they deliver a set of classic pre-war Delta blues, a jazz standard and a couple of original numbers. The two sons of Northumbria are obviously having a ball judging by the snippets of in-between song patter – and Paul Lamb even delivering an occasional vocal!

To be fair, their isn’t a clunker on the cd . . . kicking off with a lovely Tampa Red song, “Don’t You Lie To Me”, followed by “Hesitation Blues” and “Busy Bootin’” – respectively by Rev. Gary Davis and Kokomo Arnold. The lengthy “Train Rolled In The Station” is a mainstay of Johnny Dickinson’s solo show, and here, the T-Bone Walker tune features some masterful slide guitar, coupled with Paul Lamb’s sterling harmonica work – an album standout!

Blind Boy Fuller’s “Lost Lover Blues” rolls along delightfully – another train song, with the standard, “Don’t Get Around Much Any More” turned into an instrumental gypsy jazz workout – great performances from both musicians on this, with some gorgeous harmonica playing. The traditional “Crow Jane” – another song from the Dickinson solo show – and Big Bill Broonzy’s “Blues When It Rains” both flow beautifully, highlighting Johnny Dickinson’s irresistible voice.

The two original songs see a nod to the legendary Lonnie Johnson on the instrumental  “Blues For Lonnie” – more stunning slide guitar here; with the closing title track, “Playin’ With The Blues” ending proceedings on an uptempo note, with a virtuoso harmonica workout from Paul Lamb, complete with introductions and audience thanks – and plenty of that Sonny Terry whooping and hollering – marvellous stuff!


Album available from and

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