Reviewed Nov. 14, 1997.
Touring to support the excellent Rising Tide release, “One of the Fortunate Few,” singer-harmonicat Delbert McClinton and his crack nine-piece band churn out the kind of Tex-Memphis uptown blues that boldly walk a fine line between taut and untetherred. McClinton’s two-hour roadhouse revue is the kind of show that would’ve made the Rolling Stones jealous when they were recording “Tumblin’ Dice,” and although its 25 years hence, McClinton’s act shows no sign of age.
For starters, McClinton mixes material from a variety of soul sources — Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” the Temptations’ “Standing on Shaky Ground” — with his own forte, honky tonk country and sweltering organ ‘n’ horns-driven blues. Friday’s show flowed with precision, panache and a host of top-notch soloists, one of the best examples of roots music outside Dave Alvin’s recent stints (billed as the King of California) at Jack’s Sugar Shack in Hollywood.
McClinton’s a throwback to the full-throated blues masters such as Big Joe Turner, and he carries a heavy load on virtually every number, from the funk of “Monkey Around” to the sweetness of “Too Much Stuff.” The wear and tear his voice shows is worked to his emotional advantage; it’s the pitch that matters the most and he’s in the strike zone song after song.