Kim Wilson Smokin' Joint

Truth be known, Wilson was never much of a singer. When fronting the Fabulous Thunderbirds, he relied mainly upon a hot band, his personality and lounge lizard shtick, and his own tasty harp playing. Smokin' Joint was recorded at two pairs of live dates - Phoenix '99 and Hermosa Beach '00 - and he's closer to classic blues than most of the Fab T-Birds rock and soul-oriented work. It wouldn't be unreasonable to consider it a further return to his roots, a journey that began with his solo career. He uses the same rhythm section at both gigs but otherwise the bands are different, though the lot of them are in their 20s. They're solid and tight, always dependable and have a few good moments, but a lack of wisdom and confidence prohibits them from producing truly revelatory blues. The main selling point here is Wilson's harp playing; thankfully, there's plenty of it as they pound through 13 numbers. (M.C.)