Record Review

Record Review

Gary Clark Jr.

Live (Warner Bros.)

An argument could be made that blues, especially the post-Stevie Ray Vaughan/every-guitar-solo-for-itself variety, has been plowed to dust. Not for Gary Clark Jr. Utilizing his best material from squeaky clean debut LP Blak and Blu, the guitarist plows fertile soil where it does the most good: live onstage. Freed from slick production, Clark plays to his many strengths, from the swampy fingerpicking of "Don't Owe You a Thang" and Chuck Berry roll of "Travis County" to the rumbling 12-bars of "Next Door Neighbor Blues." He also pokes and prods his staples, adding a reggae lilt to the grungy "When My Train Pulls In," introing the metalized "Numb" with clean slide, injecting dissonant solos into the warm-bath R&B tunes "Things Are Changin'" and "Please Come Home," and even transmogrifying "Blak and Blu" from electro-pop to six-string soul. As required by Antone's law, Clark pays tribute to the genre's roots with traditional readings of BB King's "Three O'Clock Blues" and Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues," while powering Albert Collins' "If Trouble Was Money" with a squalling lead. Live climaxes with eight-and-a-half mesmerizing minutes of "Bright Lights," a master class in psychedelic trance blues that demonstrates why "you gonna know my name."

****

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