Kim Wilson, “Blues and Boogie Vol. 1” (Severn)

reviews-kimwilsonEvery bit a blues chameleon, Kim Wilson records and preforms under his own name as well as with the Fabulous Thunderbirds—the Austin-based band he helped found four decades ago. This CD consists mainly of covers of semi-obscure blues classics that most working blues bands could reproduce in a couple of hours—however, not at this high quality. A master of the harmonica, Wilson faithfully reproduces the genius of Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Sonny Boy Williamson. His treatments of Walter’s “Blue and Lonesome” and “Teenage Beat” are emotive and heartfelt, and both feature the chromatic harp played at its apex. He’s also a welcome guest in Sonny Boy’s Helena, Arkansas kitchen with his dead-on covers of “Ninety Nine” and “From the Bottom.”

There’s a Little Milton/Magic Sam song in the mix, “Same Old Blues,” that’s pushed by a glorious vintage-sounding horn section. Interestingly, Elmore James comes under the microscope with “No Love in my Heart” and “Sho Nuff I Do” being joyfully recycled. But the corker here is Wilson’s original “Searched All Over,” which sounds like a Trumpet Records outtake from an Elmore/Sonny Boy session circa 1952. Sixteen non-sugar coated blues tracks presented in glorious mono. The band here is spectacular and Wilson’s at the top of his game. Definitely don’t pass this one up if the blues is your bag.