Our hats off to Dan Stevens for his wonderful review of John Primer and Bob Corritore’s brand new CD, “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do!” in the July 2017 issue of Blues Music Magazine!
John Primer & Bob Corritore
Ain’t Nothing You Can Do!
Delta Groove Music
Is Chicago blues ever going to seem stale? Not when musicians like this play it like this. Both principals are well known practitioners of the Windy City style, having spent their formative years there, where Primer still resides. Former guitarist with Muddy Waters and Magic Slim, with a long and shiny resume including a Blues Music Award as Traditional Male Blues Artist of 2016, Primer remains one of the current blues scene’s exemplary guitarists. Corritore, also a BMA winner, took his harmonica expertise to Phoenix several decades ago, where he has established himself as informal impresario of the blues in the Southwest.
This album is a sequel to their 2013 collaboration, “Knockin’ Around These Blues,” which was a set of ten covers featuring the skills of Primer and Corritore backed by an all-star ensemble of terrific session musicians. Many of those musicians are present here. Chris James (guitars), Patrick Rynn (bass), Brian Fahey (drums), and Barrelhouse Chuck (Chuck Goering), who pased away in 2016, posthumously on seven of the ten tracks on the new CD, on piano. Keys on three songs are commandeered by nonagenarian Howlin’ Wolf alumnus Henry Gray, whose talent is undiminished by age. Big Jon Atkinson (guitar) and Troy Sandow (bass) round out the ensemble.
What we get here is almost a full hour of songs, each at least four minutes long, mining the twelve bar tradition. Primer handles the vocals with aplomb and grit; his singing has been compared with the pipes of Waters, but I also hear echoes of Magic Slim and the late Johnny Dyer. (Primer may also have penned two of the cuts, which are attributed to “Alfonso Primer,” a moniker I cannot verify is John’s or a relative’s of his.) His guitar leads are consistently juicy, and his interplay with James and Atkinson seamless.
Meanwhile, Corritore confirms that he is one of the premier harp blowers around. Never one to favor flash over foundation, he provides both panache and gristle. His original composition, “Harmonica Boogaloo,” establishes an insistent groove abetted by Chuck’s tinkly piano. It’s one of my favorite numbers of the set, but there are no mis-hits anywhere. “Poor Man Blues,” the opener, is a topically relevant mid-tempo shuffle distinguished by Primer’s evocative vocal. Double entendre provides amusement in the cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Elevate Me Mama,” the classic “Big Leg Woman” gets a Muddy Waters treatment with fine greasy slide guitar, and “Gambling Blues” is a worthy tribute to its composer, Morris Holt (Magic Slim). As is often the case, the longest track, the slow blues title cut, is a highlight, allowing for several nasty solos.
“Ain’t Nothing You Can Do!” is expert musicians delivering no frills electric Chicago blues at its best.
– Dan Stevens