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Nasty Ned – Roots 52

American Showplace Music

12 tracks; 39.06 minutes

Singer and harp player Nasty Ned Petti is a stalwart of the New Jersey blues scene. He was the featured vocalist on the recent Johnny Charles CD “Stratified” that I reviewed for Blues Blast a few months back. His aim on his own new CD was to create a sound that might have been made in the 50’s, hence the title. The band is a basic blues quartet; bass, both electric and ‘doghouse’ by Junior Bradfield, drums by Steve Pozellanti, guitar by Michael Krizan (who also co-wrote four of the songs) and harp/voice by Ned himself. Ned wrote or co-wrote eight of the tunes and there are covers of three songs from the Muddy Waters canon, plus a short version of “The Star Spangled Banner”.

There is not much original here, but the three opening cuts are all good. “Lonely Loaded Pistol” moves along at a steady pace using a riff not far removed from “Smokestack Lightning” and so immediately reminds us of that classic 1950’s sound. “Born With Plainfield Blues” is autobiographical and tells us all about Ned’s life and career over a shuffle with clean guitar fills. “Love me deep” is propelled by some nice, insistent slide and a slightly disturbing lyric about being a shark looking for someone to bite! “Nothin’ else can taste that way” was the track I liked least, with a rather monotonous beat and a guitar that reminded me of Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” in parts.

The CD then moves across to acoustic blues for a very decent stab at Muddy’s “Can’t Be Satisfied” that recalls Little Feat’s version on their “Live At Neon Park” album. Good acoustic slide here and a pleasing vocal, also a feature of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (here listed as ‘traditional’ though I have always believed it to be Muddy’s song). The band remain unplugged for this one too but the guitar is definitely plugged back in for “Standin’ Round Cryin’” which is a very close relative of the Muddy original. Indeed, the three song section acts as a clear Muddy tribute section within the CD and Ned’s voice is both clearer here and closer to Muddy’s than on his own material.

“Money Can’t Buy You” returns us to the band’s own material and chugs along nicely as Ned tells us that money can’t buy you love or happiness, peace of mind, “but it sure comes in handy all the rest of the time”! “Mississippi Water” is quite repetitive and name checks Bourbon Street but did not seem to evoke the Crescent City in its approach. “In My Soul” is the last full track, a slow blues with some nice guitar playing and atmospheric harp. There are then two short solo harp pieces, the first a version of “The Star Spangled Banner”, the second entitled “That’s All, Goodnight”. They both add little to the set.

The CD could have benefited from some judicious editing, perhaps dropping the final two tracks and spreading the Muddy covers through the album to add variety. If you like straight ahead blues from the golden age of the 50’s this CD might suit you well.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He went on his first Legendary Blues Cruise in January 2010 and had such a good time he will be back in 2011!

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