Mississippi Heat review…November 28, 2016…

MISSISSIPPI HEAT

CAB DRIVING MAN

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-848        CUPID BOUND–CAB DRIVING MAN–THAT LATE NIGHT STUFF–FLOWERS ON MY TOMBSTONE–ICY BLUE–THE LAST GO ROUND–LIFE IS TOO SHORT–DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING–ROSALIE–LUCK OF THE DRAW–MAMA KAILA–MUSIC IS MY LIFE–LONELY EYES–SMOOTH OPERATOR–CAN’T GET ME NO TRACTION–HEY PIPO!

One of Chicago’s tightest and most versatile bands has to be Mississippi Heat, led by powerhouse harp man Pierre Lacocque (pronounced la-COKE).  He writes songs that mirror the things he has seen over his last twenty-five years as a bandleader, and “Cab Driving Man” marks the band’s twelfth album and sixth for Delmark.  Pierre got the harp bug after seeing Big Walter Horton at the University Of Chicago back in 1969, forever changing his musical life.  Alongside Pierre for this sweet sixteen cuts of prime blues is  topnotch vocalist Inetta Visor, Michael Dotson on guitar and vocals, Brian Quinn on bass, and Terence Williams on drums, with a few exceptional special guests.

The title cut has a jazzy, Cotton Club-blues feel, and is a nod to the iconic Cab Calloway.  Inetta’s vocals get the point across, as her “Cab Driving Man rides all the time!”  Sax Gordon’s horn parts also mesh perfectly with Pierre’s harp.  Michael has the lead vocal on one of his originals, the good-time party blues of a man who lives for Friday nights and “That Late Night Stuff,” well-done over a cha-cha beat.

There are some hot-button issues addressed by Pierre herein, too.  Domestic abuse is the underlying theme of the deep Delta-inspired blues of “Flowers On My Tombstone.”  “Icy Blue” details what can happen if one partner in a relationship has a chance to pull up stakes to better themselves.  The guitar from Giles Corey fairly blisters on this one, too.  And, family discord is addressed thru the actions of “Mama Kaila.”

Corey and Inetta get down to duet bidness with a peppy read of “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing,” done up in the spirit of the Fontella Bass-Bobby McClure original.  Dave Specter lays down some lowdown guitar licks over Inetta’s proclamation that she got “an honest man” thru the “Luck Of The Draw!”  And, the set closes with Pierre blowin’ long and strong on the swingin’ instrumental, “Hey Pipo!”

Pierre Lacocque himself states in the album’s liner notes that “everything I do has a story,” and the versatility of the material in “Cab Driving Man” surely attests to this fact.  He and Mississippi Heat continue to thrive in the tough Chicago blues community, bringin’ a swingin’ groove to everything they do!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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