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John Long - Lost & found (Delta Groove Productions)
Review by Ricardo Feb 2006


It's always a pleasure when a package from Delta Groove arrives here at Bluesinlondon Towers. On a gray rainy London winter's morning an envelope that's come all the way from Coldwater Canyon Blvd, North Hollywood, bearing tidings that the blues is alive, and well, on the West Coast is a ray of sunshine indeed.

This latest arrival is no exception. As is usual for Delta Groove it's been beautifully put together - their attention to detail on the photography, packaging and notes reflecting their commitment to the music contained within. As is also usual, that music is of the highest standard.

John Long has, apparently, been a long time coming. For over 40 years he's been developing his backlog of original material, mostly unnoticed and unrecorded. Although some bloke called Muddy Waters is quoted, over twenty years ago, as having said "John Long is the best young country blues artist playing today."

This CD was, according to producer Randy Chortkoff, recorded in a single day. "It's difficult to fully describe the experience of having Long transport us back in time to the glory days of pre-war blues. He's the only artist I've ever encountered who seems to have control of a musical time machine." Says Chortkoff. "Spending that day with someone who so closely embodies the roots of the blues tradition refreshed and rejuvenated my love of this musical genre."

And he's got a point. Long's songs, and playing, have a tremendous sense of the past. However, they also retain a freshness, a 'now-ness', that makes you realise he's not just some retro authenticist ploughing an obscure blues furrow for the enjoyment of a handful of beard-strokers but a living, breathing, doing it NOW real blues player.

What you get is 12 tracks (41 minutes! Brilliant! Can everybody please stop doing hour-long albums - they're too damn long) of simply recorded top quality original country blues. John plays guitar and harp (in a rack) with absolute assurance. He's clearly a master of styles - slide and otherwise - but he manages to avoid the leaden studiousness people like that Clapton feller seem to bring to all attempts at re-creating the 'old' days. Maybe this is because Long is, fortunately, not re-creating anything but simply playing the way he plays.

 
   

Joined on three tracks by pianist Fred Kaplan, this is a beautifully paced proper old school acoustic folky country-blues album that proves there's plenty of life left in the form yet. That I've played it to some of my non-blues media type friends at a dinner party and they loved it too shows that, like the Buena Vista's, if you're doing your thing right, with heart and soul and passion and honesty, there are no musical boundaries. Let's just keep that Cooder chap out of it.