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78 rpm - 78 rpm

Sound Tone Records

10 tracks  Total time: 32:59

78 rpm is comprised of three veteran players in Indianapolis, Indiana’s blues scene, whose total experience is easily around 100 years. Tim Duffy, drummer/vocalist, goes back to the 1980s, while harpman Allen Stratyner and guitarist/slide guitarist/vocalist Vince Mullin go back further, and were both members of Yank Rachell’s bands in the 1980s. In addition, Stratyner gave his harp talents to Yank Rachell’s last album, Too Hot for the Devil, recorded in late 1996, just a half a year before the famed “Blues Mandolin Man”’s death.

Vince Mullin is arguably the best slide guitarist in Central Indiana, while harp maestro Stratyner is not only adept at both acoustic and amplified harp and has obviously studied the masters, he’s also created his own personalized approach to the venerable Marine Band. The self-titled 78 rpm is the group’s first CD, and while it contains no originals, it does ably cover the classic blues in a striking way. Contained on the CD are not only the hoary “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Key to the Highway,” but also Elmore James’s “Shake Your Money Maker,” Jimmy Reed’s “Mary, Mary,” Jimmy Rogers’s “You Don’t Know,” Jerry McCain’s “She’s Tough,” and two classic Muddy Waters’ tunes, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “She Moves Me.” Rounding out the CD’s playlist is the Jerry West-penned “Tell Me Pretty Baby,” and Big Walter Horton’s noted instrumental, “Walter’s Boogie.” The CD sleeve gives the key each number is played in, a real pedagogical help for blues beginners.

While the arrangements are all built around the original recordings, Stratyner and Mullin approach them afresh, creating a uniquely 78 rpm approach that relies on harp-guitar interplay, and on “She Moves Me” and “You Don’t Know,” letting the harp carry the melody load. Vince Mullin plays his able slide guitar on most cuts, with excellent slide solos that demonstrate his mastery on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and especially on “Shake Your Money Maker.” Allen Stratyner’s added harp provides a unique approach to what were guitar-driven numbers when originally done, and even on songs that did feature harp on the original, Stratyner does his own playing, not simply copying from the original recording. His harmonica chops stand out well on “Walter’s Boogie,” and are also notable by the way he alternates very high notes with very low notes in his solo on “Sweet Home Chicago.” The absence of a bassist in 78 rpm isn’t even noticed, as guitarist Mullin and drummer Duffy provide a full rhythmic bottom all by themselves.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.

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