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One Night In America                                             
One Night In America
                                                    Charlie Musselwhite CD Review

If I'm waiting at the airport and need a book to read, there are several authors whose books I would buy on sight. I would'nt need to read the cover jacket because I know that the book will be a good read. There are a few actors whose movies I'll attend without watching the trailers or reading the reviews. I know that the movie will be worth watching. And when a guy like
Charlie Musselwhite releases a new CD, I'll buy it for the very same reason-- I know it will be great. For over 30 years, Charlie has never let me down and his new recording, ONE NIGHT IN AMERICA, is certainly no exception.
On this album, Charlie has at least temporarily abandoned his interest in Brazilian music; his fat tone Chicago blues harp and his West Coast Swing. He has returned to what he calls his roots with an incredibly sweet, yet crisp harmonica. A stellar band and the added treat of some darned beautiful accompanying vocals back him. The result is a nostalgic and optimistic collection of contemporary and traditional Blues that is as proud of its past as it is confident of its future.
The first track,
TRAIL OF TEARS sets the pace with Charlie wrapping his mellow voice around the sweet harmony of Kelly Willis and Christine Ohlman. If the guitar solo by Saturday Night Lives' G.E.Smith wasn't enough, there is also an outstanding solo by Charlie's old friend, Robben Ford.
IN A TOWN THIS SIZE is an interesting tune, with a country flavor that definitely has a bluegrass sound. The backing vocal by Kelly Willis and the tongue-in cheek lyrics provide an interesting change from some of the darker, more aggressive tunes on the album. Speaking of darker moods, AIN'T IN TIME is one of personal favorites on this CD. This has a very brooding;
ominous quality that prevails until the harp solo raises the hairs on the back of my neck.
IN YOUR DARKEST HOUR is a tune of Charlie's that he has recorded before. I've always like the original for it's ominous; almost foreboding 'I'll see you soon' quality. This new version has an air of truth and regret that gives it a poignant message.
BLUE OVERTOOK ME is also a tune that Charlie has previously recorded. A great tune to begin with, it's been dusted off, brightened up and fined-tuned with the great guitar licks from G.E.Smith and Robben Ford.
After a sweet instrumental shuffle entitled
I'LL MEET YOU OVER THERE, The last track is an old chesnut by Jimmy Reed, AIN'T THAT LOVIN' YOU BABY that has a nice jump to it. I think T-Bone Wolk's bass has a lot to do with the continuity of this album, and this tune is a perfect example. This is a fun, great version of Jimmy's and I think he'd agree that it is the perfect last track for this fine CD. This may not be the usual Charlie Musselwhite CD, but is there really such a thing? Charlie is the only harp player of his stature that keep's coming up with fresh new approaches to his music. Charlie doesn't need to walk the bar in dark glasses while deep breathing into a chromonica. Nor does the audience in the front seats require extra napkins when he plays his harp. Charlie's just so GOOD. He's the most versatile and influential harp player since Sonny Boy Williamson. Don't miss this one!

Pat Benny

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