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Turning Blue

13 DEC 11 JOHN C. BRUENING

For more than four decades, Duke Robillard has been a jack of all trades guitarist, shifting effortlessly among a variety of styles, including blues, jazz, swing, rockabilly and more. In between assembling Roomful of Blues in the late-'60s and staying with the group through the '70s, then joining the Fabulous Thunderbirds in the 1990s, he has maintained a prolific and eclectic solo career along the way. Among his more notable efforts is Turn It Around, a 1990 recording on Rounder that mixes barrelhouse blues with shades of rock and pop.

He gets assistance from a hand-picked crew known simply as The Duke Robillard Band -- organist Malcolm Walsh, bassist Scott Appelrouth, drummer Doug Hinman and several backing vocalists -- along with guest vocalist Susan Forrest.

From the opening riff of the swampy "Down By the Delta," Robillard stakes out his territory with crunchy riffs and his own churning vocals. Forrest's style alternates between silky and raw as the occasion demands, and she adds an interesting dimension to the set overall. Noteworthy tracks include the lusty "Passionate Kiss" and the percussive "Just A Human." The title track, written and sung by Forrest, veers a little bit toward country, but not so much that it's inconsistent with the rest of the material. "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" is balls-out vintage rock and roll, while "Sweets For My Sweet" plays like simple but infectious '60s pop. His take on Buddy Holly's "Tell Me How" is true to the spirit of the Crickets' yet fresh enough for an entirely new era.

If you're a fan of blues and roots from any era, Robillard has your territory covered on this one.



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