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FAME Review: Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well

The Well

Charlie Musselwhite

Alligator Records - ALCD 4939

Available from Alligator Records

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

Iconic harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite presents us with what is arguably his most personal and possibly his best disc in ages. This stalwart of the blues harmonica has been mesmerizing audiences with his work since the 1960s, and through 30 albums. On this disc, for the first time on an album with a full band he wrote all the songs, except for, Dig The Pain, which he co-wrote with Zoe Wood. These songs reflect his life from his beginning in Mississippi, to his time in Memphis, to the harder electric blues of Chicago where he played with everyone form Muddy Waters to John Lee Hooker to Tom Waits and Bonnie Raitt. On this disc he plays it like he means it with some of his most down and dirty playing and singing, and you can feel it is shooting forth straight from his heart. His band is rock solid with him and the only real guest he has helping on the disc is Mavis Staples. Her voice with its beauty, strength and right on phrasing adds another dimension to things he wanted to say to his mother in Sad and Beautiful World.

He grew up in the hill country of Mississippi, spent some formative years in Memphis, a stopping point for him on his way to Chicago and the electric city blues, a scene that was burgeoning with the influx of people fleeing the South and this music they brought with them. The songs he wrote for The Well reflect this musical journey and tell his personal story without pulling any punches, including the tragic murder of his elderly mother and his battle and recovery from alcohol. The songs stream out with the heartfelt story with highlights punctuated by the extraordinary harmonica work for which he has been known for so many years.

Track List:

  • Rambler's Blues
  • Dig The Pain
  • The Well
  • Where Hwy 61 Runs
  • Sad And Beautiful World
  • Sonny Payne Special
  • Good Times
  • Just You, Just Blues
  • Cadillac Women
  • Hoodoo Queen
  • Clarksdale Getaway
  • Cook County Blues
  • Sorcer's Dream

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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