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31 January 2008
John Long brilliantly carries the flag of acoustic blues. The artist is in his late fifties, but the album "Lost & Found" is only his first one solo; the fabulous cd is released now in Finland, too.
Acoustic one-man band stuff? No thanks! My narrow-minded self got the blow it deserved as soon as a copy of John Long's "Lost & Found" made its way to me. The cd is a 'lost property office' of the coolest kind – you are likely to make some amazing discoveries here. The album came out two years ago, but it is released in Finland only now.
|Al Blake, the producer of the album, describes John Long as a national treasure. I tend to agree. The cd is a pure diamond from top to bottom. The songs are mostly written by John himself, brother Claude has been working on a few as well. As far as the current marathon-length cd trend is concerned, "Lost & Found" does not have many songs on it; total playing time is reasonable too. This completes the package. A sensible amount of content leads to a compact outcome.
Fortunately, there are still a number of those who respect the truest tradition of the blues. John Long proves here he is a brilliant advocate of this. We are used to call this kind of music 'alternative' these days. Northern European people are fortunate: Finnish Black River Bluesman & The Croaking Lizard, L.R. Phoenix (a Briton settled in eastern Finland) and Bullfrog Brown from Estonia bravely let the true blues flag fly.
John Long's musical expression is primal, although it does not match Son House or John Lee Hooker in rawness; still Mr Long's music is perfectly genuine, organic – a compelling stream of blues consciousness. It is reminiscent of Homesick James or early Muddy Waters. Metronomes are likely to go crazy when meeting John Long. The most important thing, however, are the emotions, which are conveyed here by Mr Long and his songs.
Mr Long does most of the songs solo, Fred Kaplan backs up in piano on three tracks only. The material has been recorded during one day in California; this emphasises the uniqueness of the album.
It is hard to name favourite songs on the album, as the cd is a continuing highlight. "Leavin' St Louis" deserves a note, though. Actually it is two separate songs in the end of the cd; the song is virtually the same, but the different feels on the solo and piano versions make up a fantastic tandem. "Greyhound Driver", a song penned by brother Claude, brings regards from the dusty highways. "Healing Touch" probably tells a story about something else, but to me it symbolises the impact, which is given by John Long on acoustic blues today.
John Long is capable of toning his vocals. He can whisper, hit the falsetto, holler like a train dispatcher – and everything in between. Guitar and harmonica have the minimal sound that can be expected from first-rate acoustic blues.
John Long: Lost & Found. Delta Groove Productions, 2006
Long (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Fred Kaplan (piano)
Producers: Al Blake, Randy Chortkoff
Link: John Long @ Delta Groove