Reviews: Phillip Walker – The Bottom Of The Top & Someday You’ll Have These Blues – James Armstrong – Sleeping With A Stranger & Got It Goin’ On

Posted on: Saturday, Feb 16, 2013

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Phillip Walker – The Bottom Of The Top & Someday You’ll Have These Blues

(Floating World Records: FLOATM6173)

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James Armstrong – Sleeping With A Stranger & Got It Goin’ On

(Floating World Records: FLOATM6172)

Here’s a couple of reissues from Floating World Records well worthy of attention – and coming from different directions and sounds, but both are extremely classy offerings and available at mid-price.

The late Phillip Walker originally hailed from Louisiana and immersed himself in the classic blues and r&b of the South after moving to Port Alexander, Texas, delivering a gorgeous ‘gumbo’ of swinging blues, some New Orleans influence and more. “The Bottom Of The Top” and “Someday You’ll Have These Blues” were both produced by Bruce Bromberg in the 70s, and here the 20 tracks have fitted snuggly on to one CD.

Both albums contain many fine players and as a guide just look at the first three tracks: a swinging blues in the shape of “I Can’t Lose (With The Stuff I Use); the classic slow blues of “Tin Pan Alley” and a dip into some Lightning Hopkins with “Hello Central”.

The later “Someday You’ll Have These Blues” has several tracks co-written with Robert Cray collaborators Dennis Walker and David Amy, as well as a great version of the classic “Part Time Love”, and the oft-covered soul blues of  “Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home” . . . fine material indeed.

By contrast, James Armstrong’s blues is a lot more urban, being born and raised in Los Angeles, and hailing from a musical family. “Sleeping With A Stranger” (1995) and “Got It Goin’ On” (2000) represent his first and third releases for the Californian label, High Tone Records . . . . and it’s a tribute to his courage and determination that he made more than one album.

After the first release he and his young children were attacked in their home by an intruder which resulted in Armstrong being stabbed several times. As a result he had to have his collarbone removed and therefore basically had to adapt a new guitar style because of his injuries. He first was able to play some slide guitar, before being able to use his hand more for conventional playing.

The music on offer over the two discs is both soulful and heartfelt, and extremely tasteful . . . and those who love the music of Robert Cray will enjoy what’s on offer here. Like Cray he possesses a stinging guitar tone, together with a fine voice . . . the 23 tracks containing mostly original songs of his or co-writes . . . it’s great to hear them again in 2013.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.floatingworldrecords.co.uk

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