NPR logo Top 10 Blues Albums of 2007, from WXPN

Top 10 Blues Albums of 2007, from WXPN

WXPN's Blues Show host Jonny Meister counts off his 10 favorite blues albums of 2007, including harmonica player Bobby Rush, guitarist James Blood Ulmer and singer Marie Knight.

Top 10 Blues Albums of 2007, from WXPN

Bobby Rush
What's the Use
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Bobby Rush

  • Song: What's the Use
  • from Raw

After years leading Southern soul-blues bands on well-produced and often risque albums, Bobby Rush goes back to the country with this acoustic and mostly solo disc. Playing not only his harmonica, but also guitar and foot percussion, Rush has made one of the deepest folk-blues albums of recent years. Listen to "What’s the Use."

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Song
Raw
Album
Raw
Artist
Bobby Rush
Label
Deep Rush
Released
2007

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James Blood Ulmer
Grinnin' in Your Face
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James Blood Ulmer

  • Song: Grinnin' in Your Face
  • from Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions

Ulmer continues to bring a rare perspective to blues, coming to it from his experience as a free-jazz player. Whether it's his songs, or classics from Bessie Smith and Son House, Ulmer offers a new and challenging approach to the blues. Listen to "Grinnin' in Your Face."

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Song
Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions
Album
Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions
Artist
James Blood Ulmer
Label
Hyena
Released
2007

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Marie Knight
Death Don't Have No Mercy
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Marie Knight

  • Song: Death Don't Have No Mercy
  • from Let Us Get Together

One of the greatest singers from the world of commercial gospel music pays tribute to one of the greatest folk-revival figures. Before this project was presented to her, Knight had never even heard of Rev. Gary Davis, but on this tribute to him, she sounds like she's known these songs all her life. Listen to "Death Don't Have No Mercy."

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Song
Let Us Get Together
Album
Let Us Get Together
Artist
Marie Knight
Label
M.C.
Released
2007

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Sugar Blue
Chicago Blues
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Sugar Blue

  • Song: Chicago Blues
  • from Code Blue

Sugar Blue, one of the most innovative blues harmonica players, hasn't made an album in more than a decade. Finally in control of issues that derailed his career and his life, Blue plays spicy blues packed with social commentary. Listen to "Chicago Blues."

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Song
Code Blue
Album
Code Blue
Artist
Sugar Blue
Label
Beeble
Released
2007

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Cover for Old School
Piece of Man
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Koko Taylor

  • Song: Piece of Man
  • from Old School

Back after eight years, gaining the upper hand on serious illnesses, the Queen of the Blues sings as well as she ever has, mixing originals with blues classics that we haven't heard in a while. As always, she fully exploits the battle of the sexes. Listen to "Piece of a Man."

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Song
Old School
Album
Old School
Artist
Koko Taylor
Label
Alligator

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Williams and Jefferson
The Wolves Are Howling
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Terry Willams/Wesley Jefferson

  • Song: The Wolves Are Howling
  • from Meet Me in the Cotton Field

If you had to pick a single place that was most integral to the blues in its history, it might well be Clarksdale, Miss., where Big T and Junebug live. This duo represents Clarksdale today, with soulful country blues that draws on their life experiences but makes them ours, too. Listen to "The Wolves are Howling."

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Song
Meet Me in the Cotton Field
Album
Meet Me in the Cotton Field
Artist
Terry Willams/Wesley Jefferson
Label
Broke & Hungry
Released
2007

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Harrison Kennedy
Jones'
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Harrison Kennedy

  • Song: Jones'
  • from High Country Blues

This Canadian artist was once a member of The Chairmen of the Board. This album mixes country and city blues, always with a refreshing less-is-more approach that connects the deep, rootsy blues with modern experience. Listen to "The Jones."

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Song
High Country Blues
Album
High Country Blues
Artist
Harrison Kennedy
Label
Electro-Fi
Released
2007

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Franklin & Baytop
One Way Gal
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Franklin & Baytop

  • Song: One Way Gal
  • from Searching for Frank

This blues duo pays tribute to Memphis bluesman Frank Stokes with some of his songs and the music of his contemporaries. Apart from being a welcome alternative to the endless Robert Johnson tributes, this album also showcases some real talent in modern country blues. Listen to "One Way Gal."

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Song
Searching for Frank
Album
Searching for Frank
Artist
Franklin & Baytop
Label
Patuxent
Released
2007

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Mem Shannon
Phunkville
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Mem Shannon

  • Song: Phunkville
  • from Live: A Night at Tipitina's

Mem Shannon has it all: He's a great songwriter, singer and guitarist with years of road experience. This live album showcases many of his fine songs, performed before a hometown audience in New Orleans. Listen to "Phunkville."

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Song
Live: A Night at Tipitina's
Album
Live: A Night at Tipitina's
Artist
Mem Shannon
Label
Northern Blues
Released
2007

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Jimmy Holmes
Catfish Blues
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Jimmy Duck Holmes

  • Song: Catfish Blues
  • from Done Got Tired of Tryin'

Bentonia, Miss., is known for its own specialized blues style, represented by the great Skip James, who was a Bentonia native. Jimmy "Duck" Holmes brings the style back and updates it on this, his second album, which includes an appearance by Bentonia's great harmonica player Bud Spires. Listen to "Catfish Blues."

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Song
Done Got Tired of Tryin'
Album
Done Got Tired of Tryin'
Artist
Jimmy Duck Holmes
Label
Broke & Hungry
Released
2007

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