Music » Music Stories

Big George Brock

Alive At Seventy Five
(Cat Head)

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Big George Brock is in fine form on this set, which was recorded in May 2007 at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Alive brings the electric style defined in 1950s Chicago back to its rural roots to create a hybrid combining aspects of both country and city blues. Mixing original songs with a handful of covers, Brock sings with authority and depth, evoking (rather than imitating) the sound of his musical heroes Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and he blows a spare yet eloquent blues harp that says more with one note than lesser players can say with a hundred. He's ably abetted here by a highly sympathetic band, starting with drummer Riley Coatie Jr., and bass player Barry Bays — both of whom provide an unflagging and powerful pulse, but yet can also turn on a dime to follow Brock's sometimes idiosyncratic improvisations (which alternately compress and stretch the twelve-bar blues form). Meanwhile, guitarists Riley Coatie Sr. and Bill Abel carry on an energetic dialogue with Brock, the rhythm section and each other, serving up both chattering commentary and cacophonous crosstalk. It all adds up to a satisfying hour of real-deal roots music that should delight blues lovers everywhere.

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