AND NORTH COUNTRY FAR
AND DANNY THOMPSON
THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD
STONY PLAIN RECORDS CD SPCD 1390
THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD–TOOLIN’ DOWN THE ROAD–I’LL FARM FOR YOU–TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN’–CREOLE CAFE–BORN TO BE YOUR MAN–PRISON OF TIME–KING SIZE BED–ON THE PORCH–1912 SKIING DISASTER–TELL OL’ BILL–WISH I COULD HOLD YOU NOW–BLUEBERRY BOY (INST.)–YOU REALLY GOT ME W/KING SIZE BED (INST.)
For his latest Stony Plain album, world-renowned troubadour Eric Bibb has teamed up with an all-acoustic band billed as North Country Far—the Finnish Haavisto brothers–Janne on drums, and Olli on dobro and pedal steel. Add in Petri Hakala on mandola and mandolin, and this became a formidable outfit, indeed. However, it was missing one piece. The final member for this project became famed upright bassist Danny Thompson, and this core created Eric’s “The Happiest Man In The World.” The fourteen cuts feature Eric on vocals, six-string banjo and guitars, and he and the fellows turn in a sweet set of country-blues, perfect for a picnic or just hangin’ out.
Eric looks at love and maturing gracefully over the course of these tunes. He leads off with the title cut, an ode to his lover and how she makes him feel. Everyone takes a solo, and Eric rides that vein, literally, in the next cut, as “there’s few things I adore more than Toolin’ Down The Road with my good gal at the wheel!” Petri’s mandolin is a perfect complement within the context of this one, too. Eric’s banjo riff rides all the way thru the poignant tale of two lovers growing old gracefully, as they sit predominantly in silence, “On The Porch.” Olli’s pedal steel fits in nicely alongside the banjo. The set closes with a strong, stripped-down take on Ray Davies’ and The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and features a hidden track at the end of the vocal—an instrumental version of “King Size Bed.”
We had two favorites, too. A love affair that begins with missing a day of work turns into a lifetime for a couple who “bought a place in the country,” where, “down at the Creole Cafe, she serves the gumbo, and I serve the blues!” And, just as sure as “Babe Ruth was born to swing that bat, and Dr. King was born to do what’s right, I Was Born To Be Your Man!”
Eric Bibb continues to be one of the most versatile and eclectic players on the contemporary scene today. Joining forces with North Country Far and Danny Thompson makes “The Happiest Man In The World” a fine addition to any fan’s collection! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.