R.L. Burnside CD review [Fat Possum]

Music Reviews
R.L. Burnside CD review [Fat Possum]
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Dec 19, 2005, 18:08

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R.L. BURNSIDE A Bothered Mind CD

Building on the concepts begun with 1998's Come On In, A Bothered Mind is another experiment in reworking the late Burnside's Delta majesty for the Now Generation via techno remixing. But while Come On In's content is largely instrumental, this release takes a path more similar to the last such episode, 2000's Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down. As on that release, the scene here (cut in 2004, a year before Burnside's death) is more about R.L.'s genius than the slice-and-dice skills of his music's manipulators. With producers Mike E. Clark and Tino Gross at the controls, the set features guest spots by forward-thinking Frisco rapper Lyrics Born and cred-seeking dirtbag supreme Kid Rock. Nevertheless, Burnside's crazed vocalizing is still front and center. The easy standout here is the insane “Stole My Check,” which finds our potty-mouthed blues king ranting on about mail theft while drowning in a whirlpool of irresistible thumps, squealing harmonica, DJ scratching, slide guitar, and soul piano—pretty great, actually. Though a couple tunes here are thankfully left as they were (the '68 solo acoustic “Bird Without a Feather”; the recent electric “See What My Buddy Done”), at its best A Bothered Mind grooves like a beat-heavy, pelvis-pivoting modernization of Muddy Waters' Electric Mud. And, like that famously ill-advised psychedelic crossover attempt, this record runs the risk of pissing off a lot of blues purists. But these days so many folks who call themselves “blues purists” actually consider the output of certain sexagenarian English shoeshine boys to be the real deal—rather than the raw scree of R.L. and his Fat Possum brethren it's not to say those clueless rubes (or even longtime R.L. fans like us) will find A Bothered Mind's unapologetic electronica anyw`ere near as enjoyable as Too Bad Jim or Mississippi Hill Country Blues. But if this album manages to bring the magnificence of one of America's greatest artists to even a few new ears in the hip-hop-raised, college-radio audience, well, then, the effort's been well spent. And if it happens to drive the Eric Clapton fans nuts, hey, that's just gravy. (R.L. Burnside 1926-2005, R.I.P) [Fat Possum]

-Peter Aaron

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