Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite

Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite
Get Up!

Stax (STX 33874-02)

By Georgetown Fats
June 2013

Ben Harper takes the fun out of being a blues reviewer and critic. Normally when a contemporary musician produces a blues album, I find myself waiting for a copy with poison keyboard in hand enjoying the opportunity to tear the release to shreds.

The problem in regards to Ben Harper and my poison keyboard is, not only does Harper possess obvious blues chops, but by working with both the Blind Boys of Alabama for their 2004 There Will Be a Light release and now in 2013 with Charlie Musselwhite on their Get Up! release he certainly knows who to partner with while making forays into the blues.

Highlights from Get Up! have to be the heavily gospel tinged “We Can’t End This Way,” the single (or at least what my infernal Starbucks App told me was the single) “You Lost Another Lover, I lost Another Friend” and the raw rocker “Blood Side Out.” But the truth is, all ten songs are pretty good. There are no barnburners, but there are absolutely no dogs on Get Up! either.

While it is curious that Charlie Musselwhite seems to take a back seat both musically and vocally in Get Up!, it is hard not to appreciate the results. The individual musicians allow their talent levels to take a back seat in order to produce ten solid tracks. Both Harper and Musselwhite are held in the highest esteem with both their fans and their colleagues, and as 2013 moves into award season I envision Get Up! bringing home a lot of hardware. Hopefully Harper’s continued dalliance with blues will help both introduce his fans to Charlie Musslewhite’s catalog as well as blues as a whole.

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