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The incendiary playing of slide guitarist Sonny Landreth first captured my imagination twenty odd years ago, and my admiration for him has never strayed. Although he has released some music since then, nothing compares to the fantastic music present within Outward Bound (1992) and South Of I-10 (1995); the latter especially hits the spot. It is worth noting some of the players in attendance on South Of I-10; due to the fact not only does it contain special guests in Mark Knopfler, Allen Toussaint and Stephen Bruton but fellow members with him from his days with John Hiatt, David Ranson (bass) and Kenneth Blevins (drums) plus drummer Greg Morrow, Steve Conn and others. Both albums are produced by R.S Field and Landreth, and were recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and Dockside Studio, Maurice, Louisiana respectively.
South Of I-10 is peppered with highlights, and depending on my mood personal joys shift from “Congo Square” to his duo recording with the late, piano playing legend Toussaint “Mojo Boogie”, “Cajun Waltz”, “Creole Angel”, “Turning Wheel” and with Bruton in his company “South Of 1-10” has it all. Fabulous descriptive lyrics to take you deep into cajun country (Lafayette etc) and a world of crawfish as if speaks of among other things cajun legend Clifton Chenier (an old boss of his). The list just goes on as Landreth and the crew are found performing at the top of their respective game! They can all look back to this album, and be duly proud. There are not too many people who are able to excite me in such fashion. Landreth at his best in my mind is up there on that score with the John Fogerty, and though a little different you can also add Chris Smither and Ray Bonneville to the list!
The grooves Landreth creates, and drops into seemingly at will are on occasions enough to blow your socks off. Like on “C’est Chaud’ where you just have to take a listen to the work of Blevins as he goes for broke, the album is awash in such energy.
As for Outward Bound (as before it is produced by R.S Field and Landreth) it too is a mighty fine record, and with the likes of “Back To Bayou Teche”, moody ode “Sacred Ground” and with an electric beat, “New Landlord”. Fuelled by an incessant rhythm and some of his best vocals as John Hiatt lends harmony vocal support on the record new heights are reached, and you don’t have to go far or wait too long for another killer track with them working in unison. “Common Law Love” complete with Steve Conn on accordion also kicks up a ruckus, as does the rockin’ “Bad Weather” (Sue Medley on harmony vocals). This as the use of the word hurricane is given a new meaning. The final track, title piece “Outward Bound” is more sombre, it is like there is an element of uncertainty involved. Ranson, Blevins and Landreth like with South I-10 weld together a sound hard to beat.
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