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David Maxwell & Louisiana Red - You Got To Move

Bluemax Records

VizzTone Label Group

 7 songs (9 tracks); 46:48 minutes

Some days, there’s nothing better than rough and raw. David Maxwell and Louisiana Red’s “You Got To Move” is raw, old school blues at its stripped down, paint peeling best. Recoded in a single day back in 2007, this disc features Red on a distorted slide guitar and vocals with Maxwell playing the 88s.

All songs on this short disc (just over 45 minutes) are originals, but they harken back to the deep blues approach of borrowing on what has come before. You’ll hear familiar licks from Elmore James and Johnny Shines... snippets of lyrics that have graced hundreds of songs, but the old and new is woven together with a deep, genuine feel for the music. This CD is sans bass player, sans drummer and it’s all the better for it. The duet approach serves to showcase both players’ skills, and above all, restraint.

The pair play off of each other brilliantly, whipping into full-on jams that’ll have you swearing you hear another three musicians on the disc to such subtly where a slight, slid-into note is held quietly with vibrato so gentle that you can almost see it. Is the performance perfect? Not at all. At times, Maxwell and Red seem to get their shoelaces tied together and will stumble for a measure or two, but it only seems to enhance the genuine spontaneous feel of this disc.

There are other times, however, when Maxwell’s pure piano work seems to be so perfectly in sync with Red’s slide that you think they must be drawing from some collective consciousness. The disc starts with the long and deep “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” which perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the tracks. The lyrics are fresh, yet familiar, and we get introduced to the bank-and-forth play between Maxwell’s keys and Red’s strings.

Other stand outs include the title track, “You Got to Move” and the quirky and playful “New Jersey Women.” Red manages to mix up the tempos and rhythms to keep the duet from sounding like they are treading over the same territory. The true highlight of this disc is the rich musical tapestry that is created by such simple instrumental approaches. There are no effects, compressors or reverb here to tweak the sounds - just a straightforward piano and a slightly overdriven electric slide guitar.  It’s through this simplicity of tone that we see their true musicianship shine through.

If you are looking for an intimate old-school blues experience, unfettered with gizmos or gimmicks, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more raw, personal and pleasurable disc than You Got To Move.

Reviewer Paul Schuytema is a lifelong blues enthusiast who grew up in Chi-town. He cut his blues teeth at shows by Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. He now lives in the cornfields and puts on the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival every fall.

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