Richard  Ray  Farrell

"The blues will never die, because it's not a fad, it's a way of life."

Stuck On The Blues Blue Beet (By Mick Rainsford)

stuckonthebluesLet's start with the acoustic set where Farrell follows up his fine collaboration with Steve Guyger with, and introducing, another harp maestro in Marco Pandolfi.

Like all of his CDs, this set is a mix of Farrell originals and well chosen covers including an obligatory Robert Johnson.

Farrell has a natural, unforced vocal style that is ideally suited to acoustic blues - and, as on his previous release with Guyger, he restricts his guitar playing to mainly rhythm allowing Pandolfi the room to demonstrate his mastery of acoustic harp.

The set opens with "I've Got My Fingers Crossed" a Jug Band/ Tampa Red hybrid that fairly bounces along fired by Pandolfi's exuberant harp - before segueing into RJ's "Phonograph Blues" with it's sparse strumming, wistful vocals and Sonny Terry influenced harp. The hypnotically percussive "Dollar For Dollar, Pound For Pound" is reminiscent of the work of Satan and Adam - "Share Your Love With Me" has a folksy Celtic feel - whilst "Honey Babe" reminds me of the early work of Leon Redbone.

Big Bill Broonzy is another major influence on Farrell, Pandolfi's John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson styled harp adding credence to "Make My Getaway" - Farrell's own "Stuck On The Blues" and "Walkin' On Thin Ice" staying within the Broonzy canon: the first an high-spirited romp replete with fine high register harp, whilst the latter is a loping blues with more Sonny Boy (1) styled harp.

Add in a tremendous rendition of Muddy's "Honey Bee" replete with fine acoustic slide and superb harp - a bouncy rendition of Blind Lemon's "One Dime Blues" featuring "cracked" plaintive vocals - and Sam Hopkins' "I Once Was A Gambler" played Chicago style but with Sonny Terry influenced harp, and you have a set that delights from first track to last.

Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain Magazine (2007)