November 1999

Roy Gaines - I Got the T-Bone Walker Blues
Groove Note GRV1002-2
Released: 1999

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality *****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]What will strike you first -- and immediately -- is the authority that Roy Gaines brings to this music. Gaines played with T-Bone Walker almost 50 years ago, and he has Walker’s lively style down pat. These tunes may be covers on a tribute collection of sorts, but hearing them is like getting one of the new US state quarters in your change: it’s recognizable but still fascinating. "Stormy Monday," which opens the disc, is swinging, and it is reprised in a very different acoustic version at the end of the disc. In between are tunes that smolder with slow energy, like the restrained "I Got a Break," on which Gaines relies on the lyrics and the horns in the band to provide the fireworks. Gaines’ guitar work on Hank Williams’ "Honky Tonk Blues" is upbeat and a touch twangy -- he can sing and pick. Bill Stuve on bass and Steve Magulian on drums are called upon to create the vital heartbeat for these songs, and they do so in sinewy fashion. They definitely got the blues.

The even bigger story, however, is the sound, which will take your breath away. If you want to know what a 24/96 DVD sounds like, buy this disc. If every CD sounded like this one -- waaaay smooth and resolving, tremendous sense of space, a complete lack of grain or glare -- nobody would be wanting to replace our first digital format with something new, proving that the good ol’ see-dee still has some music to make. I Got the T-Bone Walker Blues might be the best CD I’ve ever heard, and it’ll make your system sound like it cost a bundle. Miss it at your peril.