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This week on my i-pod #3 – The Delbert Chronicles

February 26th, 2006

This week I am going to cover one of, if not my absolute favourite under-rated, virtually unknown artists: Delbert McClinton. There’s lots of good reasons to love Delbert McClinton, not the least of which is, how do you not love a guy called Delbert? It’s just a cool handle, and the best name for a blues-man since Muddy Waters.

Delbert has been around for years, playing the various circuits, honing his craft in country, blues and rock & roll. I discovered him in the early 90’s, when a great, GREAT song got a tiny bit of local radio play. That song, Everytime I Roll The Dice led me to one of my all time favourite albums, Never Been Rocked Enough. Everytime I Roll The Dice is the lead off song for the CD, and it is a great piece of straight a head rock & roll. A great hook, a very danceable beat, and fun lyrics about a girl; what more can you ask for in a song? Throughout this CD, Delbert puts a very tight band through their straight up R&R paces. There is no weakness on it, with some true greats stuck in there: A cover of John Hiatt’s beautiful Have A Little Faith In Me, the hilarious I Used To Worry the sexy Cease And Desist and two great blues, Miss You Fever & Blues As Blues Can Get. It also has another piece that got some airplay, probably more than Roll the Dice, a reggae inspired number called Stir It Up.

This disc is loaded with subtle humour, The opening lyrics to I Used to Worry being a good example:

Well, I used to worry where all my money had gone
‘Til I wound up with nothing to spend my money on
I used to guard my time like diamonds and pearls
‘Til I wind up with nothing but all the time in the world

Just to think I used to worry about things like that
I used to worry ’bout rich and skinny ’til I wound up poor and fat
Now days I kind of worry where my mind’s been at
Just to think I used to worry about things like that

I have recommended this CD to a few friends through the years, and have been told every time how much they like it – if you are a fan of Rock & Roll the way it used to be played, back when we considered it dance music, then give this CD a try. It’s a true gem.

A great truth in life is when you have a gem like Never Been Rocked Enough in your collection, you try more of the same artist. I have been both pleased and disappointed by other offerings. Delbert had a country phase, and some success, which frankly does nothing for me. But I have heard another album from the later 90’s which is a very solid effort, although with weaknesses. Then last fall I was in upstate New York for a guitar festival, and the local Walmart had his newest CD Cost of Living, for $9.99. I had to take a chance on it, and it paid off.

Not as a complete album as Never Been Rocked Enough, Cost of Living is still good. The first half, One Of The Fortunate Few, Right To Be Wrong, I’’I’ll Change My Style and Your Memory, Me, And The Blues are all excellent. The Spanish influenced Down Into Mexico I have on a magazine CD that celebrates people/songs that have been influenced by Bruce Springsteen. I would consider this a questionable choice, but I not an outrageous one. Delbert’s sense of humour again comes through in the opening song One Of The Fortunate Few:

Well, for one thing, there was a whole lot of guys
That would have liked to have been in my shoes
But the upkeep on a woman like that
Will give an old poor old boy the blues
Still the pleasure was worth the pain
Of everything she put me through
And I consider myself one of the fortunate few

Yeah and another thing she wasn’t just good looking
Her imagination just wouldn’t quit
She’d make you do things you never thought about
And things you wouldn’t want to admit
There must be somebody else out there
That feels about her like I do
And I consider myself one of the fortunate few

The problem with this CD, for me anyway, is the second half veers into country. Not completely so, and it’s new rock & roll tinged, listenable country, but it’s not as good as the music that precedes it. I actually quite like I Had A Real Good Time, but the rest is simply not on par with the first half, and as such Cost of Living is not on par with Never Been Rocked Enough.

That said, Delbert McClinton is a serious artist who has been around since the early 60’s, and if anyone is looking for some great, reasonably unknown music, I couldn’t recommend him enough.

This Week on my I-Pod

  1. Ron
    March 6th, 2006 at 10:34 | #1

    Everyone I’ve loaned this CD to has loved it. It took me a while to get it back from my boss.
    Another bit of trivia anyone? Delbert was the harmonica player for Roy Orbison on the early 60’s tours. While on a package tour with the Beatles he taught John to play the harmonica properly.

  2. Ron
    March 8th, 2006 at 09:22 | #2

    Ooops, brain scramble.
    Delbert was harmonica player for Bruce Channel on that tour.

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