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Russ Green – City Soul (Cleopatra Records)

City Soul is Russ Green’s debut album and he comes out of the traps with in your face wailing harp and slide guitar on First Thing Smokin’. This is a rocking boogie of an opener, tipping nods to Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the way. The pace changes for the slower, sultry Blues of Believe In Love which has Green producing top notch harp and Joe Munroe laying down some laid back Hammond. The Edge (not a homage to U2’s guitarist) is an 8 minute, harp led funky Blues. Green contributes some lung bursting fills but is not all about the harmonica, his lived in voice proves extremely effective too. There’s a foot stomping return to roots on Going Down South. Green says that Sugar Blue is an influence on him and it’s not hard to understand why. Also note the telling contribution from Eric Bibb here. He turns up the funk on Lover Man. This channels the best of Chicago with Munroe contributing further tremendous Hammond organ.
Train Of Pain is a bit of a departure. Green strolls out of the blues/funk arena and into soul with a rock guitar backing. The deep social theme on this will have you thinking and it’s almost certainly going to grow on you over time. There’s a New Orleans drum beat on Up From The Bottom. Added staccato ice-picking guitar from Giles Cory and Green’s worldly-wise vocal and it adds up to a simple effective track that is set off by the wicked harp. That harp sets alight an otherwise standard soulful Blues on Lint In My Pocket before he finishes with two crackers, the Chicago Blues influenced Something New and the funky Love To Give. Something New has echoes of Country Blues all given a modern Blues Rock feel with sleazy slide guitar from Vince Agwada and Love To Give just confirms that Green has to be up there in the higher echelons of current blues harmonica players.

David Blue.

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