VARIOUS ARTISTS -- Knights of the Blues Table (Viceroy / Lightyear)

Tribute CDs seem to be everywhere these days. Some are good; some are not. Knights of the Blues Table is one of the better ones, paying tribute to the British blues movement of the early 60's. All of the musicians appearing on the CD were asked to record either their favorite blues track, or a song that influenced them personally. The CD is dedicated to one of the founders of the British blues movement, Cyril Davies, and the musicians who followed in his footsteps that are no longer with us.

The disc starts with a rare, previously unreleased track from Davies entitled "KC Moan." Recorded at his home in 1954, this hidden track can only be heard on newer CD players by scanning backwards beyond the first track (instructions are on the CD). If your CD player can access this track, you'll also get to hear a brief history of British blues by Pete Brown (who is probably best known as the lyricist for Cream's "White Room")

Jack Bruce's rendition of Davies' "Send For Me" is the first 'real' cut on the CD, and its cool, shuffling rhythm makes for an excellent lead track. Georgie Fame's lounge take on "If You Live" almost sounds like a Ben Sidran cut from the mid-80's. Chris Jagger gets help from his older brother, Mick, on the acoustic "Racketeer Blues." Maggie Bell and Big Jim Sullivan turn in a powerful, gut wrenching performance of "Blind Man" that shouldn't be missed.

One of the best tracks on the CD is "Nine Below Zero," by Nine Below Zero, a new group headed by Dennis Greaves (formerly of The Truth). Since they named the group after the Sonny Boy Williamson tune, it was only appropriate that they do the song. Although they're newcomers to the blues circuit, they play with real authenticity. Last, but not least is the slow, burning take on "You Shook Me" by ex-Rolling Stone guitarist, Mick Taylor, and ace keyboardist, Max Middleton.

Knights of the Blues Table is an excellent disc for blues-rock fans, as well as those who are just discovering early 60's British blues. The liner notes are informative, and include photos of the recording sessions that produced the CD.

© 1997 Steve Marshall