Release date: May 14, 2021
VizzTone/ SWMAF Records
By Terry Abrahamson
Bob Corritore (photo)
I had this girlfriend in trade school. She was in a band called “Little Miss Muffet and the Soul Curds.” She lived the part. We’d go to Jennifer Convertibles just to sit on the tuffets. We smoked whey, put on Pharaoh Sanders and wondered aloud “After the spider frightened Miss Muffet away, where did she go?” All I knew was that, wherever she went, there’d be some of that Bob Corritore spooky-as-all-get-out chromebone weaving through one messed up love thing after another.
I was right. Three nights ago, there she was -- half a block ahead of me on the hairiest sidewalk this side of a bad neighborhood in Armenia -- as she ducked into Spider in My Stew, sadly unprepared for the embrace of a dark beauty that reaffirms the already reaffirmin’est fact of modern recording; namely that nobody tells a twisted tale of love like the master of Blues Noir Bob Corritore and his merry band of “I don’t know how much more bacon grease this mic can take” collaborateurs. Together, they were ready to teach Miss Muffet some lessons in chrome-mance even if it killed her.
The pain and drama of Corritore’s tough love lessons hit early and hard. Halfway through the first verse of the first cut, I had to cover my mind’s eyes as “Tennessee Woman” throws Oscar Wilson’s heart to the wolves; the song’s narrator is framed as the most endearingly vulnerable, hopelessly doomed character in pop culture since the porpoise fetus they fed to Jaws.…(you gotta catch it in the book; it was too gruesome for Spielberg to use in the movie). By the last verse, Oscar’s impending heartbreak is palpable as he sets off on a pony – yes, a pony - for “way down in Tennessee” (good luck with that one on a GPS), never realizing that, with no car, no cell phone and no money, he’s more likely to become the first guy banned from match.com since Drew Peterson than to win the heart of a woman in a Blues song.
Naturally, with this being her first stop on the Corritore side of the rabbit hole, Li’l Miss M is already asking herself “Should I have given the spider a second chance? What if I tell my parents he’ll convert?” Too late! A girl who can barely metabolize curds and whey is broadsided by “Big Mama’s Soul Food,” the greatest soul food song of all time - and that includes Blues, Soul, Hip Hop, Polkas, Klezmer….I don’t care! Sugaray Rayford probably made this up in real time as he sang it, and the ultimate voice of authority is thunderin’, and my soul’s mouth is still watering. And leave it to Sugaray to come up with the perfect rhyme for cornbread: “Cornbread!” Well done, Ray-Squared.
But wait! Faster than hokum revivalist Chris “Bad News” Barnes could sing, “Burpin’ Up the Blues,” the arachnophobic Miss M finds herself standin’ face to face with the undisputed Queen of Pickin’ the Wrong Man; the roar we adore, Diunna Greenleaf, who lets loose with Willie Dixon’s sweet tale of Blues revenge “Don’t Mess with the Messer.” Doug James orchestrates a jaw-dropping sax orgy that, all by itself, is worth twice what Spider in My Stew will set ya back off the music rack at Porky Pine’s Pomade in the Shade.
And Corritore and Dixon are just warming up. Shy Perry howls through the greatest party song of all time, “Wang Dang Doodle,” and -- for perhaps the first time in Blues song history – evolves, or maybe devolves, ”windahs” into “windows,” and I like it. Not that, after being frightened away by an unarmed invertebrate, Muffie would be ready to take a chance at romance with Razor-Totin’ Jim or Butcher Knife-Totin’ Annie.
But it’s the Dixon-penned title cut, as delivered by Lurrie Bell, that could stoke terror in the heart of Hannibal Lechter. This is Bob Corritore at his my-goosebumps’-teeth-are-chattering darkest. With every blood-curdling quiver of his nightmare-soaked delivery, Bell isn’t channeling a guy with a spider in his stew; he’s channeling the guy who is tied to a chair, watching the guy with the spider in his stew eat his own liver. No wonder Lefty Dizz called Lurie Bell “The Hieronymus Bosch of the Blues!”
Once again, it’s a Johnny Rawls’ performance that begs the question “What’s the difference between Blues and Soul Blues?” “Sleeping with the Blues” is a 9-1-1 call convincing me that the answer lies in what kind of hat the guy by the door has on, and “what’s he wearing that matches it?” And Johnny Rawls’ soul-drenched Blues just might have Miss M achin’ for a chance to let the Octobrutha’s memory foam earn its name.
Still, convincing a name-above-the-title nursery rhyme diva like LMM to seriously consider tying her cans to the Web Weaver’s back bumper has Corritore diggin’ deep into his Fender Bender All Stars, most notably guitar greats Kid Ramos (“Big Mama’s Soul Food”) and John Primer (“Mama Talk to Your Daughter”). Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin’s guitar brings the ragout du jour to a steamin’ swampy boil, perfectly accenting Willie Buck’s vocal on a song that should win the BMA Award for Most Oxymoronic Blues Song Title: “Soon Forgotten,” in which Buck reveals he’s still reeling from his baby’s indiscretion on April 12, 1951.
Clearly, no tour guide can compare to Bob Corritore, who so adeptly leads us to the sad ’n’ seedy side of the street of the Devil's music. And nobody drops as lethal a poison cherry on that sundae as Alabama Mike, tearing through “What Ya Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You?” with a voice that could peel bark off a redwood, making it plain as day that it’s just a matter of time 'til the Muffster lands back in those eight lovin' arms at the Curds 'n' Whey Drive Thru.
And there she stands. Alone. Trembling. Sure as the rain that she’ll never again dip her toe into the dark cruel water of the Sea of Love. But as the sun begins to rise, Francine Reed takes Miss Muffet’s hand and intones Dylan’s lyrics: “Any day now/Any way now/I shall be released.” And with no trace of an alley anywhere in sight; with no hint of the --“wasn’t you at the Zanzibar the night that guy walked in with his wife’s head in a bag?” -- whisper that stands as the unseen brand on every murky, fiery glistening drop of his music, Bob Corritore slow-dances her all the way home to the unlikely caress of “I Shall Be Released,” and into the eight stew-drippin’ arms of the arthropod she left behind. “Welcome home, Miss Muffet,” he cooed deep - and deeply - in her ear. “Please baby,” she softly exhaled, “Call me ‘Kesha.’”
Spider in My Stew is Bob Corritore’s collection of 14 songs recorded over nine sessions between 2018 and 2020. It’s a scathing deconstruction of romance. And all the reasons you’ll ever need to fall in love with The Blues.
About the Author: Terry Abrahamson won a Grammy by writing songs for Muddy Waters. He helped launch George Thorogood’s career and created John Lee Hooker’s first radio commercial, which are just a few of his accomplishments. Terry also is a playwright. He and partner Derrick Procell wrote songs recorded by Shemekia Copeland, Long Tall Deb and Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield. Terry authored the acclaimed photography book, In The Belly of The Blues – Chicago to Boston to L.A. 1969 to 1983 -- A Memoir.