Review: Big Pete – Choice Cuts
Posted on: Friday, Dec 2, 2011
(Delta Groove Music DGPCD149)
Dutch master Pieter ‘Big Pete’ van der Pluijm is without doubt one of the finest exponents of the blues in Europe. His exceptional ability was widely recognised when, at the age of 23, he was invited to take the place of the late and much-lamented Lester Butler to front his band, The Red Devils, on a European memorial tour. He later formed The Lester Butler Tribute Band (featuring Matt Schofield on guitar) and has since led The Strikes and more recently MOCT.
On Choice Cuts, which contains thirteen memorable covers, he is backed by guitarist Alex Schultz, drummer Jimi Bott, bass player Willie J Campbell and pianist Rob Rio. There are also appearances on individual tracks by a host of guests.
The album kicks into life with a mesmeric rendition of Lester Butler’s “Driftin’”, which immediately shows Big Pete’s excellent vocals and superlative harp player to great effect. There is an equally brilliant version of Albert King’s “Can’t You See What You’re Doin’ To Me?”, featuring some great guitar work from Alex Schultz and a taste of Hammond B3 from Malcolm Lukens. The marvellous Kim Wilson guests on “Act Like You Love Me” with his trademark brilliance on harp before the slow blues, “Just To Be With You” welcomes guitarist Kirk Fletcher to the party.
“Don’t Start Crying Now” swings along nicely followed by Otis Smothers’s “I Got My Eyes On You”, embellished by some terrific harp playing by Al Blake and more magic from Schultz, and Hey Lawdy Mama” with Kirk Fletcher excelling once again on guitar. On “I Was Fooled”, Big Pete’s tremendous harp work is matched by Shawn Pittman on lead guitar and some great piano tinkling from Rob Rio. Chester Burnett’s “Rockin’ Daddy” introduces the guitar of highly talented Kid Ramos into the fray while “Left Me With A Broken Heart” sees Pete defer to the gentler vocals of Johnny Dyer.
A terrific version of Little Walter’s “Just Your Fool” welcomes guitarist Rusty Zinn before Pete demonstrates his mastery of the chromatic harmonica with a masterful delivery of William Clarke’s “Chromatic Crumbs” while John Marx and Alex Schultz expertly share lead guitar duties. The splendidly played shuffle, Willie Dixon/William R Emerson’s “I’m A Business Man”, with Paul Oscher guesting on melodica, provides an appropriate conclusion to this top class compilation, which reinforces Big Pete’s position at the forefront of the blues harmonica hall of fame.