Down in the Alley

Down in the Alley

by Alvin Youngblood HartAlvin Youngblood Hart


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Hart does a 180 after the husky, power trio/space/R&B
ock of 2000's Start With the Soul by spinning out a dozen blues covers in a solo acoustic setting. On his fourth album (for his fourth label), the contemporary bluesman sounds inspired and refreshed as he accompanies himself on acoustic six-string guitar, banjo, and mandolin. The production is from Memphis cult hero Jim Dickinson, who doesn't have a chance to do much other than provide inspiration in this sparse setting. Hart runs down fairly obscure tunes from Son House, Charley Patton, Leadbelly, Skip James, and Sleepy John Estes, infusing them with a jolt of energy while staying true to their original versions and invigorating them with inspired interpretations. Hart's voice is magnificent throughout -- yowling, moaning, doleful, yet proud as he pays tribute to the Delta and country blues masters. Even the well-worn traditional "Motherless Child" sounds fresh in this context. Eschewing the diverse -- some claim overly diverse -- approach of his previous few releases, Hart sticks to basics here. He keeps the tone spare, naked, and dry, which best fits the somber mood, especially on his high-lonesome banjo interpretation of Odetta's "Chilly Winds." Recorded in just three days, this return to the artist's country blues roots is at turns harrowing, haunting, and uplifting, just like the originals. Those who found the Thin Lizzy-edged rock attack of his last release too far removed from Hart's earlier rootsy approach will rejoice in this unvarnished, stripped-down, deep blues release.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/09/2002
Label: Memphis Int'l
UPC: 0823862200223
catalogNumber: 203
Rank: 66605

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Down in the Alley 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
He demonstrates like nobody else how musicians a decade ago were able to play guitar and banjo. And he is a great singer as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alvin goes ''back home'' to the Delta on this one. If you're familiar with his previous three CDs, you know he's usually all over the place-rock, jazz, blues, country, and more. Not only does he pay tribute to the Delta's greatest blues men but he captures the spirit of the dapper city blues man and the anonymous field hand, as well. His guitar work is masterful and reminds connoisseurs of the varied styles of Bukka White, Furry Lewis and Charley Patton. But, if you've never heard a real Delta blues man sing, you may not expect some of the vocals--they are very definitely authentic. My favorite tracks: Judge Bouche, How Long Before I Can Change My Clothes, and Devil Got My Woman. A must have for Delta fans and those who've never had the good fortune of hearing some of the Delta legends Alvin so obviously reveres on this outstanding album.