R.L. Burnside A Bothered Mind

Given his recent health problems, this new album from the 71-year-old Mississippi bluesman comes as more than a pleasant surprise. Yet with his increasingly limited activity, it’s not surprising that most of the songs are put into the hands of outside producers for heavy remixing and other sonic manipulation that at first seem at odds with Burnside’s visceral style. Although adding hip-hop elements has worked well on several of Burnside’s previous releases, here on several tracks (most notably two with Lyrics Born and "My Name Is Robert Too” with Kid Rock) Burnside’s voice and guitar are little more than a ghostly presence. Alternately, a real revelation is the solo acoustic track "Bird Without A Feather,” recorded in 1968, which stands alongside Muddy Waters’ first plantation recordings for the Library of Congress. Unfortunately for traditionalists, there won’t nearly be enough of this on A Bothered Mind, but then again, there’s only so many times you can hear Burnside do "Rollin’ & Tumblin’” before wanting him to change it up a little. Therefore, those with an open mind will get something out of this, but those looking for the pure Burnside experience will want to go somewhere else. (Fat Possum)