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Charlie Musselwhite - Delta Hardware (Real world)
Review by Emily Clarke

It's rare for a contemporary blues musician to ride success all the way through the 1980's and still come out doing well. But Charlie Musselwhite is not your usual harp player. He plays songs that rip through your ears like rapid fire bullets. Musselwhite is a massive one-fingered salute to those who think they can still play Hoochie Coochie Man and sound interesting.

Delta Hardware, Charlie's' latest offering, gets off to a bit of a shaky start but Church Is Out is nonetheless an honest offering. For those who dislike Charlie, this is probably why. I think at first listen he might sound like an old codger who's had it. But delve further, you'll soon find what you’re looking for. Musselwhite even (after a tour with the eminently socially conscious Ben Harper) launches himself into political blues. Now now, don't sneer. Black Water was written in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and is a spooky ballad to remind us of troubled times. Above the noble subject matter, it's a belting song – filthy guitar and drums glide all over the place, while Musselwhite stands at the eye of the storm, blowing on his own terms.

The thing I like about Charlie is that he never shoots it too early. A master of suspense, he'll never leave you fully sated until the last moment, when he'll throw in some beautiful little twiddle that makes your back wrench.

On from the sordid winding of Black Water is the foot stomper, Clarksdale Boogie. Its raucously simple, and the simple plea of: "Meet me where they play good blues" is an honourable request. Musselwhite apparently employs a drummer with only a right leg, but the bare bones (sorry) sound is perfect to let the harp sear out and float above it all.

Musselwhite's voice is accented constantly by a heavy scorn, which lets him sing without really trying – as if this is all just a bit too much like hard work. Delta Hardware doesn't try to bring you anything new, it just sits – puffed up and snide – in the corner, scowling at the other punters.


 
The new one  

 

 
The last one  
 
The First one  

Charlies May 2006 gig at The Jazz Cafe review here >>