Release date: September 9, 2022
By Robin Zimmerman
John Primer & Bob Corritore/ Photo: by Eric Kriesant
Bluesman Bob Corritore might have made the break to Arizona in the early eighties, but this native Chicagoan has managed to keep his Midwestern mindset. Besides an aversion to ketchup on hot dogs, folks from the city of Big Shoulders are known for being loyal to their cohorts and extending an open door for whenever far-flung friends feel like dropping in.
This has been the case at Corritore’s Rhythm Room where a steady stream of visitors pops in to visit or gear up for a gig at this Phoenix bastion of blues music. Although Corritore is a busy club owner, an in-demand harp player, radio host and producer, he always finds time to hang out and jam with friends ranging from the late great Pinetop Perkins and Louisiana Red to present-day blues stars like John Primer, Lurrie Bell and so many others.
Luckily for blues fans, Corritore also has the foresight and Chicago street smarts to record the multitudes of jam sessions that he has orchestrated over the years. Corritore’s vast collection from his blues “vaults” have yielded a long string of superb albums that showcase the brightest and best in the business.
Corritore’s latest album, You Shocked Me, features a total of 16 electrifying tracks that were recorded at Tempe, Arizona’s Tempest Room recording studio. These sessions span from 2018 through 2022 and feature a wide range of big-name collaborations including Chicago-based bluesmen like Willie Buck, John Primer, Bob Stroger, and Oscar Wilson. But the well-traveled Corritore has also cast a wide net and captured blues talents who hail from all over the US of A.
Corritore’s nationwide blues connections include everyone from long-time collaborators Alabama Mike and Sugaray Rayford to Mississippians Johnny Rawls along with Bill Howl-N-Madd and Shy Perry. Other blues luminaries on You Shocked Me include Jimi “Primetime” Smith, Francine Reed, and Diunna Greenleaf.
The CD kicks off in fine fashion with John Primer doing his own “Hiding Place” and opening with a great riff that befits his position as someone who’s played alongside a venerable “who’s who” of the blues. Primer and Corritore are no strangers either. They’ve recorded three CDs together and with each release, their distinctive blend of old-school Chicago blues just keeps getting better. 91-year energizer bluesman Bob Stroger plays bass on this track and several others.
Alabama Mike is another of Corritore’s “go to” guys and his distinctive vocals are featured on four tracks on You Shocked Me. He comes on strong on the second song, “Squeeze Me Baby/” He also brings it home on “Somebody Stole My Love from Me,” “Work to Be Done” and “Blues for Hippies.”
Diunna Greenleaf does the honors on the title track and brings bona fide swagger and sass to shake things up on “You Shocked Me.” This tune was first recorded in 1958 by Tiny Topsy but Greenleaf puts her own spin on this high-voltage little number that has Corritore hopping and bopping with his lively harp work with Adrianna Marie on bass. Greenleaf also shines on her very own tune “Sunny Day Friends.”
Corritore makes the switch to a more mournful harmonica on “The World is in a Bad Situation.” This tune was penned by Mississippian Johnny Rawls who lends his smooth and soulful vocal stylings with a plea to “get down and pray” striking a hopeful note during these troubled times.
While Jimi “Primetime” Smith’s guitar work is showcased on many tracks, his vocals are front and center on “Soul Food” and “Blinded.” This track is followed by a jaunty “Josephine” with Sugaray Rayford at the helm on vocals. Busy Chicago bluesman, Oscar Wilson, has his turn on “Blue Blue Water” where his slow-groove delivery is pitch-perfect for this plaintive song.
Another highlight on You Shocked Me is “Train Fare.” On this tune, the ageless Bob Stroger is right on track as he punches his ticket with another hit. The action shifts over to “Atlanta’s Queen of the Blues” as Francine Reed’s powerful voice is on full display for “Don’t Need Your Permission.”
The Buck stops on the next song as Chicagoan Willie Buck takes center stage on “That Ain’t Enough.” Although Buck hails from Mississippi, he came to Chicago in the mid-fifties and made his mark on Maxwell Street. While still in Chicago, Corritore was a frequent presence on this fabled street and got his first paying gig as a member of Buck’s band.
The action moves down to Mississippi as Clarksdale’s own Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry sings and plays guitar on his “Back to the Crossroads” composition. He is joined by his daughter and frequent collaborator, Shy Perry, who contributes bass lines on the keyboard.
Besides the slew of big-name blues headliners, You Shocked Me also features an incredible cast of musicians who rank as the best in the business. You’ve got Kid Ramos, Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin and Johnny Main playing guitar on various tracks in addition to a stellar supporting cast who lend their talents to enrich and enhance each blues number.
You Shocked Me is the latest high-voltage release from Corritore’s vault of musical treasures. As per usual, he has managed to capture electrifying performances from blues treasures who come from every corner of the country. This isn’t the least bit shocking because this Chicago transplant has kept blues front and center whenever his talented friends happen to drop in.
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