FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Swississippi Chris Harper - Four Aces and A Harp

Swississippi Records

18 tracks; 72:40 minutes; Suggested

Style: Traditional Chicago Blues (Electric and Acoustic)

Unless one recognizes the faces on this CD’s cover, there is no indication that this is an All-Star line up of Chicago Blues greats, but that is exactly what it is. Similar to Jimmy Rogers’ 1999 All Stars Blues Band CD (“Blues Blues Blues”), “Four Aces and A Harp” features a blues family reunion of elder musicians matched with some of today’s “younger” guns to perform both acoustic Mississippi Delta roots and the electric Chicago Blues into which it grew. A quick look at the back cover confirms that the names of the four front cover “Aces” (seated around a poker table) are John Primer, Jimmy Burns, Bob Stroger, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, plus the “Harp,” Swiss born harpist and singer Chris Harper.

Harper, along with former Buddy Guy's Legends' soundboard / sound engineer man Dave Katzman, started a new blues label out of Chicago named Swississippi Records. Major Bluesmen in town came out to support this new project. In addition to the “four aces,” the disc features Chris Harper’s strong harp leads throughout and vocals on five cuts, Marty Sammon, Felix Reyes, “Rockin’” Johnny Burgin, Rick Sherry, and eight more of the “younger” generation. It’s a great debut CD on a new record label.

Talk about giving fans their money’s worth, the album contains seventy two minutes across eighteen deftly performed classic songs by such luminaries as Muddy Waters (“Long Distance Call”), Willie Dixon penned and Howlin’ Wolf recorded (“Down in the Bottom” and “Evil Is Going On”), Sonny Boy Williamson (“Eyesight to the Blind”), and Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Mojo Hand”). In addition, two of Chris Harper’s compositions are included plus Willie Smith’s own “Born in Arkansas.”

According to Chuck Wasserburg’s liner notes, special effort was made to give the recordings an “intimacy that would make listeners feel they were in the room with the band.” For the acoustic numbers, the “musicians sat in an old-school ‘round-robin’ setup” creating a “front porch” atmosphere. “The electric sessions were equally old school, with all musicians in the same room at the same time to create a live feel. The result is about as close as you’ll get to some early Chess or Cobra recordings.”

Bound for airplay on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show, which I co-host with Shuffle Shoes, are electric numbers: Jimmy Burns anguished singing in “I Smell Trouble,” “Evil is Going On” with Tail Dragger expertly channeling Howlin’ Wolf’s low down gravelly voice, and Little Frank Krakowski’s guitar solo in “Worried Life Blues.” Acoustic songs radio ready are: “Big Eyes” singing his own story in “Born in Arkansas,” and Billy Flynn’s “What’s Wrong” with producer Dave Katzman adding guitar, background vocals, and fun.

For fans of Chicago Blues, acquiring this CD should be a priority before sleep! The “Four Aces” have been in the game long enough to know the real-deal nuances, here passing that on through Harper’s and Katzman’s fine efforts.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.

To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design