Silvertone Blues

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Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The Sears "Wish Book" of the '50s carried a line of Kay-made guitars called Silvertone -- budding six-string players could order their dream machine and have it delivered right to their door. It was during this era that a young Joe Louis Walker began to turn to his parents' blues records for inspiration. Melding the blues with his upbringing in the gospel church, Walker developed a style of soul-drenched singing, roots-fueled guitar playing, and pointed songwriting that, after several decades of experience, has made him one of the most celebrated modern blues artists. On SILVERTONE Walker reaches back to his formative years to create a set of slimmed-down, ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The Sears "Wish Book" of the '50s carried a line of Kay-made guitars called Silvertone -- budding six-string players could order their dream machine and have it delivered right to their door. It was during this era that a young Joe Louis Walker began to turn to his parents' blues records for inspiration. Melding the blues with his upbringing in the gospel church, Walker developed a style of soul-drenched singing, roots-fueled guitar playing, and pointed songwriting that, after several decades of experience, has made him one of the most celebrated modern blues artists. On SILVERTONE Walker reaches back to his formative years to create a set of slimmed-down, acoustic-based blues that pays tribute to the past while relating it to the present. On the opening "Runnin' from the Devil," Walker's voice resonates like that of a Pentecostal preacher against Alvin Youngblood Hart's loose and sinful guitar licks. Hart, who like Walker paid many of his blues dues on the California blues scene, takes over vocals and shares guitar duties with Walker on a front-porch jam session version of Robert Nighthawk's "Cryin' Won't Help You." The two blues brothers are joined by James "Super Harp" Cotton for the Jimmy Reed tribute, "Born in Mississippi." Walker and Cotton have collaborated often, most notably on the harp player's Grammy-winning "Deep in the Blues," accounting for their organic rapport on Sunnyland Slim's "It's You Baby." Pianist Kenny Wayne also joins Walker on three cuts, including the instrumentals "Kenny's Barrelhouse" and the title cut, which also features Walker drawing eerie, thereminlike sounds from his guitar. While these instrumentals are the tightest pieces on SILVERTONE, it's Walker's singing that gives the disc its substance. Whether pleading for mercy on "Bad Luck Blues," celebrating sex appeal in "Trouble on Wheels," or testifying with "Letting Go," Walker's voice simultaneously pulses with rugged virility and aches with affecting vulnerability. He knows that singing the blues is both a way to express hurt and a means to heal.
All Music Guide - Ann Wickstrom
Some critics have tagged this the best blues release of 1999; others weren't nearly as kind. It's a beauty-is-in-the-ear-of-the-beholder situation. Blues "purists" who lament the fact that very few artists today are playing down-home, traditional blues will very much enjoy and appreciate this return to the roots. Fans of more contemporary styles might quickly grow tired of the intense, piercing vocals and upper-register slide guitar work. There are ten originals and two covers Robert Nighthawk's "Crying Won't Help You" and Sunnyland Slim's "It's You Baby". Most of the tunes are sparse, gritty duets with either James Cotton on harp, Alvin Youngblood Hart on guitar/vocals, or Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne on piano. Walker sings and plays dobro on the only solo track "Talk to Me." If you long for a modern-day artist with the delivery of a Robert Johnson or a Howlin' Wolf and you like your blues pure and raw, Silvertone Blues is right up your alley.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/5/1999
  • Label: Verve
  • UPC: 731454772129
  • Catalog Number: 547721

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joe Louis Walker Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Dobro, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Vocals, Slide Guitar
James Cotton Harmonica, Track Performer
Chris Sandoval Drums, Track Performer
Alvin Youngblood Hart Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Joe Thomas Bass, Acoustic Bass
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne Piano
Technical Credits
Joe Louis Walker Composer, Producer
Jean-Philippe Allard Executive Producer
B.B. King Composer
Jay Newland Engineer, Mastering
Sam Ling Composer
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne Composer
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Bare and Essential Blues

    Joe Louis Walker could put out a CD with no instrumentation and it would still be good. Fortunately, Silvertone also gives us the guitar playing of Walker as well as Alvin Youngblood Hart. This CD is a sterling release of back-porch pared down blues. If that's what you're into, you'll love this one.

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