Bill Perry Fire It Up

Bill Perry comes screaming out of the gate with searing blues guitar, gruff vocals and a sound that is a slightly swampy cross between Little Feat, Freddie King and Johnny Winter. As much rock as it is blues, Perry's third disc is a natural progression, turning up the heat with a more aggressive sound. One blast of "Thinkin' Of You," in which Perry positively shreds his notes, will make you an instant believer. Over half of the tracks feature his solid songwriting and, aided by Jimmy Vivino, the guitar-based arrangements share the spotlight with organ, piano, mandolin and background vocals. His slightly raspy vocals seem strained of late, but are delivered with passion and soul. Surprisingly, Perry apprenticed as the main guitarist for folk legend Richie Havens, but this upstate New Yorker has already managed to add inventive creativity and much needed fresh blood to the blues category. However, it is his conviction that distinguishes him from the overabundance of hot guitarists getting all the press lately. Fire It Up, indeed. (Blind Pig)