304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for an album of new blues seamlessly transferred into new blues. There is plenty of skilful guitar backed by an exceedingly good band, topped by a blues voice that belies MM’s age and origins.
For a London based blues musician to be called Mississippi MacDonald, your first thought maybe that he is a bit presumptuous…well, he got that name in school as he was the only one listening to music from across the pond. At home, there were albums by B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Santana and Hendrix which began his absorption. At the age of eight, he saw The Blues Band live, and that cemented his love of the blues. That was before he ventured to America to soak up the atmosphere and witness such greats as Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Pinetop Perkins, Otis Clay and Sam Moore. Then, in 2008, he was able to pay homage to his soul hero/legend, O V Wright by playing a key role in getting a headstone for the previously unmarked grave. Add to that his six previous albums and you will agree that his adoption of the delta name is well earned. (To save me singing the Miss/iss/ipp/i song to spell it properly as taught by Mrs Goldsbrough in geography class, I will use MM instead.)
His latest album, Do Right, Say Right, continues his journey of writing new old music: as he says
“It’s modern, it’s not musical archaeology. It celebrates a fantastic tradition. It’s soul-blues, and you’ve got to put your best into it.
Opening with the first single from the album, I Was Wrong is proof that MM can write new old songs: this is pure soul blues of the kind that began with the electrification of the genre. Horns, keys back his soulful voice and the guitar speaks as effectively with a very Albert King feel as he punctuates the lyrics with little ‘stabs’ and then delivers a paced, crafted solo that works so well. I Heard It Twice continues the pattern but with a slightly quicker shuffle leaving plenty of room for the guitar to share the pain of the lady in question saying I don’t like your blues.
It Can’t Hurt Me has a radio edit available if you don’t want the little ones to hear “m*th*******r”, but the gritty storyline means that it actually adds authenticity and it is not just used for shock value. This is a new ‘backdoor man’ song of old (not the DC version) that MM has applied a modern take on the classic storyline and put that new sheen on a standard blues structure. Once again the guitar speaks as effectively as the lyrics and (to my way of thinking) holds the soul side sufficiently at bay that it is a regular listen…as is the whole album.
Drinker’s Blues employs some gospel to the mix and the blues still win as the pace slows. An impassioned song that uses differing depths as the piano softly backs the vocals and then the horns and Hammond join the guitar for a delightful solo. Let Me Explore Your Mind is yet another example of how MM has absorbed the vocal and guitar feel from some of the greats, moulded them with his personality and then uses them to write songs such as this…a brilliant (re) incarnation of the 50s blues scene with a modern edge and more lovely guitar that uses few notes to make a huge impact. That’s It I Quit tells of the difficulties a life on the road can bring written over a sort of Texas shuffle and more horns, Hammond, walking bass and great guitar. Plus, he neatly rhymes “quit” with “I ain’t taking no more of this inconvenience”, although the sh*t word does appear elsewhere and in context.
If You Want A Good Cup Of Coffee is slow, swaying pure blues with the intro guitar speaking loud and clear over a subtle band backing…lyrically, I think the confusing secret to a good beverage being “don’t let the water boil too soon” may be allegorical. Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket has a tasteful and expressive guitar intro that leads to a slow blues number about a not so simple breakup…cue a solo of bend and sustain that needs a few listens to fully appreciate the complexity and beauty.
The final track, Your Wife Is Cheating On Us was written by the formidable Denise Lasalle who has a credible and considerable recording history going back to 1967…although she will be remembered in the UK at least, for her cover of Sidney Simien’s My Toot Toot which got to number six in the UK charts. This was also covered by Little Milton in 1990 I think it is this version MM takes as his template and puts his own style on the horn backed guitar intro before doing a great vocal interpretation building to a meaningful and crafted solo.
So, I got to the end without mentioning paisley shirts! Musically, this is a classy album of soul-tinged blues with lots of lovely guitar explaining the passion in each one and keeping my ear glued to the speakers to listen for the vitality, the pain and the various skills on display. I have also, purposely, not used the “sounds like” phrase at all: for the simple reason that there are similarities sure, but MM’s understanding of the guitar and the genre he communicates so well in and through his music makes this practice redundant.
I Was Wrong
I Heard It Twice
It Can’t Hurt Me
Let Me Explore Your Mind
That’s It I Quit
If You Want A Good Cup Of Coffee
Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket
Your Wife Is Cheating On Us
All songs written by Oliver MacDonald except track 9 by Denise Lasalle
Mississippi MacDonald : Vocals and Guitar
Phil Dearing: Keyboards and Guitar
Elliot Boughen: Bass
Mark Johnson-Brown: Drums
Lucy Dearing: Backing Vocals
Album Recorded and Produced by Phil Dearing at L Sound, London
Album Launch Show – with JFK Blue and The Cinelli Bros – November 30th at the iconic 100 Club,
Tickets are available HERE
Dec 18th – Mississippi MacDonald & Band Christmas Show – Mycenae House. 90 Mycenae Road, Blackheath, SE3.
2022 Shows (More being added so check HERE)
February 10th – Bullfrog Blues Club, The Dockyard Club Onslow Rd. Southsea, PO52NH.
March 12th – Blues At Barleylands, Billericay, Essex.
April 15th – Surrey Rhythm and Blues Club, Soper Hall Caterham.
July 3rd – Oxted Festival. Master Park, 27 Church Lane, Oxted RH8 9LD.
July 8th – Mycenae House. Supporting Kara Grainger.
Oct 22/23 – Liverpool Arts Club, HRH Blues Vs Crows, with Chantel Mcgregor, PS Wreck of Blues, Troy Redfern and more.
Nov17th – Blues Bar, Tring. Tring Park Cricket Club, London Road, Tring HP23 6HA.
(iTunes, bless it, treated me to a trip back to 1935 and the little known genius, The Mississippi Moaner (real name, Isaiah Nettles) and a glorious little tune called It’s Cold In China…so much to discover from these early musicians.)