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Johnny B. Moore
Rockin’ In The Same Old Boat
Delmark DE 769
Johnny B burst on the scene in 1975 as guitarist for Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine and Willie Dixon’s All-Stars. The Clarksdale, Mississippi native was only 25 at the time, but has gone on to become a leader with almost a dozen albums and is known one of the greatest living guitarists. “Moore’s repertoire extends from obscure ’30s Delta chestnuts to contemporary soul blues, and his improvisational technique blends dexterity, imagination, and taste”. –Chicago Reader
Rockin' In The Same Old Boat is Johnny B. Moore’s rawest, most soulful release yet, and perhaps the one most true to the vibe and set list of one of his shows in front of a dancing crowd on a sweltering Saturday night. Johnny B burst on the scene in 1975 as guitarist for Koko Taylor's Blues Machine and Willie Dixon's All-Stars. The Clarksdale, Mississippi native was only 25 at the time but has gone on to become a leader with almost a dozen albums and one of the greatest living guitarists. "Moore's repertoire extends from obscure ’30s Delta chestnuts to contemporary soul blues, and his improvisational technique blends dexterity, imagination, and taste". -Chicago Reader Complete notes by Justin O’Brien enclosed.
1. Lonesome For A Dime 7:50
2. Broke Man 4:26
3. She Hit Me From The Blind Side 3:22
4. Cut You A Loose 5:46
5. Rockin’ In The Same Old Boat 6:00
6. Lookin’ Good 5:48
7. Crazy Over You 5:06
8. Big Boss Man 4:16
9. Matchbox Blues 5:09
10. That's The Way Love Is 4:50
11. I'm A King Bee 4:45
12. Walking The Streets At Midnight 5:08
13. Baby Please Don't Go 5:51
Johnny B. Moore, vocal, guitar
Hirotaka Konishi, guitar
Robert "Bass Playin' Pete" Peterson, bass
Cordell Teague, drums
1. Lonesome For A Dime 7:50 (Buster Benton, Ben Publ. Co./Pollyday Publ. Co. inc., BMI)
2. Broke Man 4:26 (Johnny B. Moore, Leric Music, BMI)
3. She Hit Me From The Blind Side 3:22 (Frank Johnson, Pajill Music/Stone Diamond Music Corp., BMI)
4. Cut You A Loose 5:46 (Mel London, Conrad Music/Lonmel Publ. Inc., BMI)
5. Rockin’ In The Same Old Boat 6:00 (Robey/Morrison, Universal Duchess Music Corp., BMI)
6. Lookin’ Good 5:48 (Samuel Maghett, Leric Music, BMI)
7. Crazy Over You 5:06 (Foster/Lloyd, Careers BMG Music Publ., BMI)
8. Big Boss Man 4:16 (Dixon/Smith, Conrad Music/Sony ATV Songs, BMI)
9. Matchbox Blues 5:09 (Blind Lemmon Jefferson, P.D.)
10. That's The Way Love Is 4:50 (Don Robey, Universal Duchess Music Corp., BMI)
11. I'm A King Bee 4:45 (J. Moore, Embassy Music Co., BMI)
12. Walking The Streets At Midnight 5:08 (Traditional, P.D.)
13. Baby Please Don't Go 5:51 (Joe Lee Williams, P.D.)
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Steve Wagner
Album Production and Supervision: Robert G. Koester and Steve Wagner
Assistant Mix Engineer: Dave Katzman
‘Rockin’ in the same old boat’ is a marvelous coinage that ties together two age-old expressions. Consider if you will that most of us are in the same boat, and some are also rockin’ that boat.
To varying degrees, we live life close to the edge. We’re like tightrope walkers—just one mis-step from falling off our wires; and like boat rockers—one rock away from going over. We know the risks, but truthfully, we don’t much give a damn about our cholesterol numbers, or the speed limit, or how many people can safely fit in the boat. We know the limits, and our reason says, “Yes, I understand.” But our actions often say, “f@ck it.”
Basically, those who don’t get in the boat are on dry land, just standing around. To live your life you’ve got to get in the boat and take the risks and the rocking. And when you take someone else into the boat, you accept more risk and, naturally, more rocking, but you can go farther if you work together and share the pains and pleasures—just so long as you don’t go overboard.
This is Johnny B. Moore’s third CD for Delmark, following Troubled World from 1997, and Live at Blue Chicago from 1996. Rockin’ is Moore’s rawest, most soulful release yet, and perhaps the one most true to the vibe and set list of one of his shows in front of a dancing crowd on a sweltering Saturday night. There are no studio effects here—no horns, no overdubs. It’s straight-ahead West Side Chicago blues performed just the way it’s done up close and in person. Together these tracks represent Moore’s most personal statement thus far for Delmark.
Johnny B. moves fluidly from one number to the next, and from one style of blues to another, pulling inspired selections out of his deep repertoire bag, almost daring his rhythm section to follow him.
Many have written of Moore’s incredible guitar skills, how he handles all the leads, fills and rhythm, effortlessly transitioning from the lead line to the support chord, the lump or the rhythm chop. Lonesome For A Dime is an outstanding example of his restless, dextrous attack. And check out That’s The Way Love Is, on which he answers each vocal line, moving from chording to a sweet burst of high picked notes. Beautiful. On Bobby “Blue”Bland’s Rockin’ In The Same Old Boat, he exhaustively explores a one-chord workout.
And Moore tosses in a few distinctive off-kilter touches, too, like the odd chord voicings on Big Boss Man, the near-flat turnarounds on Baby Please Don’t Go, and the abrupt mid-turn song endings—a legacy handed down from his guitar mentor, the late, great Eddie Taylor.
As varied and inventive as his guitar playing is though, it’s also Johnny B.’s facility with words, coupled with his soul-baring vocals that help rock this boat.
On King Bee he gives a lively twist on Slim Harpo’s warhorse when he makes the spot-on assertion that he’s a king bee, “buzzing round your hide,” finishing the deliciously lascivious thought with, “Let’s make honey baby, let me come inside.” Johnny B. also embellishes Bobby Bland’s That’s The Way Love Is with a few fresh lines that heightens the intensity of the theme.
Broke Man, which appeared on the recent CD celebrating Delmark’s 50th Anniversary, features such thought-provoking lyrics as, “What make a broke man sleep so sound? He didn’t have a damn thing—before he laid down.” His spoken narratives—like the one that emerges in the midst of Matchbox Blues—are brilliantly wrought vignettes, no doubt borrowed in part from his early years growing up in the Mississippi Delta country.
Chicago’s West Side, which has been his home for more than 30 years, is represented by his no-holds-barred versions of Cut You-A-Loose and Magic Sam’s Lookin’ Good.
His gruff, almost strained vocals reflect possibly his most emotionally charged and ingenuous effort thus far. His nearly hoarse pleading brings out every ounce of feeling from Crazy Over You in a heartrending performance. In fact, Moore loves the sweet, bright sounds of the ’60s Chicago soul scene which was going full tilt when he first arrived as a fourteen-year-old from Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1964. That keening musical sensibility of Chicago’s particular brand of soul, indelibly etched onto his musical persona, wends its way through Blind Sided, and wells up throughout the eminently danceable That’s The Way Love Is, and is fully realized on a remarkable performance, achingly rendered, of Buster Benton’s Lonesome For a Dime.
We identify with Johnny B. Moore and his rough-crafted blues and brute-beautiful open-heart singing because he is like the rest of us who are wrestling with life, trying to get by and struggling to meet our needs and make correct choices. We are all deficient. We are human. We are all rockin’ in the same old boat.
Johnny B. Moore’s performance on Rockin’ In The Same Old Boat tells it exactly like he sees it. He stands before us a scuffler, a scrapper, a survivor, an honest, however imperfect, man. This is life as sung and played—and as lived—by Johnny B. Moore, blues musician and boat rocker.
Photo: James Fraher
Design: Al Brandtner
Other Delmark albums of Interest:
Johnny B. Moore, Troubled World (701)
Live At Blue Chicago (688) with Willie Kent, Karen Carroll
Shirley Johnson, Killer Diller (757) with Johnny B. Moore
Karen Carroll, Talk To The Hand (707) with Johnny B. Moore
Had My Fun (680) with Johnny B. Moore
Bonnie Lee, Sweetheart Of The Blues (676) with Johnny B. Moore
Willie Kent, Too Hurt To Cry (667) with Johnny B. Moore, Billy Branch
Tail Dragger, American People (728) with Johnny B. Moore, Billy Branch
West Side Chicago Blues (906) with Johnny B. Moore, Magic Sam, Otis Rush
Delmark Records, 50 Years of Jazz And Blues • BLUES (050) with Junior Wells,
Luther Allison, Johnny B. Moore, Big Joe Williams...
Magic Sam, West Side Soul (615)
Black Magic (620)
Rockin’ Wild In Chicago (765)
Call or write for a free catalog of jazz and blues:
Delmark Records • 1-800-684-3480 • 4121 N. Rockwell, Chicago, IL 60618 www.delmark.com
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