Bound By The Blues
Mascot Label Group
Sonny Landreth is here Bound By The Blues, though sadly not gagged. He’s a phenomenal slide player – even if it’s always so clean, so the absurdity of his whiter-than-white playing is exposed further when he tackles standards such as Walkin’ Blues and Key To The Highway. His Walkin’ Blues is merely a more competent reading of the Grateful Dead version. Where that was despicable – largely for Bob Weir’s nervy, incongruous vocal, this version is tidied up, and with better playing but Landreth does little to dissuade you from any idea that if he didn’t first hear the song on the Dead’s live album, Without A Net then it was Eric Claptopn’s Unplugged that taught him the tune.
The originals here are better – because they at least feel real, and there’s nothing to compare them to. So when Landreth works at getting inside a song, as on The High Side, we can hear him in the context that we hear Robben Ford and Derek Trucks; that is to say a context one (crucial) step removed from the blues, not licking, pardon the pun, at the boots as is the case here.
Back to back covers of Dust My Broom and Key To The Highway might get the vineyard crowd smashing a second glass and ordering a third bottle, but that should be all the warning you need to run. Back to the source. Away from this. A damn shame, because Landreth is no slouch – some of his dizzying leads are delightful, but framed here they just feel shapeless, artless, sometimes even hopeless.