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Classic Album Reviews: James Thomas | Beefsteak Blues / Big Joe Williams | No More Whiskey / Cephas & Wiggins | Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad

A trio of blues veterans cover the stylistic waterfront on their releases.

This came out in 1998 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Despite being the cornerstone of American music, blues and its practitioners have always been treated better in Europe than at home. Cases in point: These discs, German releases finally being made available to North American ears.

No matter what you’re after, you’ll find it here. If you like it slick and smooth, try James (Son) Thomas — his velvet voice, satiny falsetto and relaxed fingerpicking go down easy, even when he’s getting down and (very) dirty on crude numbers like Catfish Blues. If you want rough ’n’ ready, Big Joe Williams deliver. His crushed-gravel rasp and nine-string guitar spark his rural blues and add hellfire to his gospel numbers. Finally, if it’s positive vibes you’re after, go for the latest from Cephas & Wiggins. These masters of the Piedmont blues — similar to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee or laid-back Taj Mahal — have an energetic, feel-good style that emphasizes precision along with passion. In other words, they all have their mojo working — and it will work on you.