Long John Baldry Remembering Leadbelly

John Baldry has a rich blues legacy born of the 12-string blues of Heddie Ledbetter, although his reputation as the "king of boogie woogie” music often overshadows his more legitimate roots. Baldry played an instrumental role in helping establish England’s love for American blues, and stints in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, Cyril Davies’s R&B All Stars, super-group Steampacket (Brian Auger, Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll) and Bluesology set his credentials in order. His dry croak of a voice may be an acquired taste but from the effort put into the production calibre of this project, there’s little doubt that his heart’s in his work for this celebration of Leadbelly’s music. From the sparse prison song "Lining Track” to the full-blown hymnal "Oh Mary Don’t You Weep,” Baldry brings a surprising and unique variety of styles to bear on his subject. "Take This Hammer,” one of the album’s best tracks, is matched by "Good Morning Blues,” in which Baldry uses a primitive tape (made in 1958), which features a scratchy sounding lead vocal and guitar that gives way to a fully fleshed-out modern sound, which nicely sums up the entire exercise. Remembering Leadbelly is a worthy tribute that hits home in a heartfelt way, even as it capitalises on Baldry’s still smoky growl. (Stony Plain)