February 03, 2005

Various Artists "Sunday Night: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough"

In the blues world, Junior Kimbrough is a legend--even though, of course, he didn't release his first album until the last six years before his death. His sound was raw, raucous and nasty, and though he didn't shine until the end of his life, it's obvious that his style was one that bridged the gap between harder rock and the blues world. With Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, modern acts pay tribute to this legendary and unknown performer, and the results are fascinating.

Of course, some of the acts appearing here are not really surprising. After all, what would a blues record be without The Black Keys, who do an ace job on "My Mind Is Ramblin'," and would it really be right to not include the Blues Explosion. who, with the help of the late Elliott Smith, perform the dirty blues of "Meet Me In The City." It's well known that Iggy Pop has been a bluesman, and Iggy & The Stooges appear here doing "You Better Run," and they deftly turn the song into their own with two versions of it, which bookend the record. Spiritualized, whose spaced-out rock has always had traces of blues, surprise here with "Sad Days Lonely Nights," and their sound all of a sudden doesn't seem so ahead of its time. On the same token, there are one or two surprises. I'd have never considered The Fiery Furnaces as a blues band, nor would I have thought of Pete Yorn as much of a bluesman, either, but both appear here, and they do quite well at interpreting Kimbrough's work.

Then again, isn't that the point? Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough is an interesting, enjoyable romp through the legacy of a long-gone but never forgotten bluesman, one who never received his due during his life, but is living again through the art of others, and that his star continues to shine is perhaps the greatest testament to his legacy.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.fatpossum.com

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