Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Whiteley Brothers - Taking Our Time (2001)

Two real Blues Brothers, Chris and Ken Whiteley, are long-time members of the Canadian blues community and have appeared on more than 150 recordings between them, dating back to the 1960s. The brothers only recorded together twice, on Bluesology and Sixteen Shades of Blue, and both albums were nominated for Juno Awards, the Canadian counterpart to the American Grammies. Taking Our Time, their third CD together, continues their streak of quality recordings and should garner another nomination.

Blues fans are in for a real treat. The brothers not only composed all thirteen songs, they sing every note and play every instrument -- more than twenty in all. While electric guitar is part of their repertoire, they employ banjos, harmonicas, washboards, coronets, mandolins, pianos and drums into their very rootsy country and delta blues sound. If you are looking for Stevie Ray Vaughn or Buddy Guy you should look elsewhere.

The songs are as varied as the instrumentation. The brothers may be firmly rooted in blues music but folk, swing and gospel are all influences here. On "Homeless Man" Chris Whiteley's vocals sound like Eric Clapton in his quieter blues mode. "On This Journey" is a gospel sing-along, guaranteed to get a live audience to join in. "I Don't Mind" is Dixieland-style blues that tells a funny story about someone who would like to share in the sudden financial windfall of a more fortunate friend. "Get These Things For Me" is another humorous tale in the same vein. A John Lee Hooker electric guitar riff is featured in "Shufflin' and Shaggin'," while "Full Moon In June" is an upbeat instrumental. Eclecticism is an attribute of all thirteen tracks. The album closes with their classic song "Take Your Time," which is on a CD for the first time. There is no filler anywhere on the disc.

This is a great work from two masters who prove the blues doesn't have to make you blue.

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