CURTIS SALGADO: Clean Getaway (Label: Shanachie)

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Curtis Salgado is a white blues singer from Washington State. His musical CV begins with a stint as back-up vocalist and harmonica player in Robert Cray’s band. That prestigious gig led to spells supporting the likes of Bobby Bland, Muddy Waters and Albert Collins before taking the vocalist spot with Santana’s road band in the 90s. Solo albums followed, but then two years ago Salgado was diagnosed with liver cancer and without a transplant he was given months to live. The US blues community rallied round and a series of benefits raised enough money for the life saving surgery and with this new, poignantly-titled 12 tracker he’s defiantly declaring his return… and it’s a return that will be applauded by blues collectors and broad-minded soul fans who still fondly remember the “real” feel of sixties music. Equally, though, in places the music has rocky feel to it and I guess the best reference point to relate to is the music of Delaney and Bonnie, though another starting point would be BB King. One of the album’s keynote cuts, you see, is ’20 Years Of BB King’. The song cleverly uses titles from the great man’s back catalogue and faithfully copies his trademark biting guitar style. It’s one of five original songs on the set. All are decent enough, but it’s the covers that offer the real interest. Salgado does great jobs on Al Green’s ‘Let’s Get Married’, Tommy Sims’ ‘Alone’ and Little Richard’s ‘I Don’t Want To Discuss It’, while he throws new light on Smokey’s ‘Who’s Loving You’, placing it in a new, rockier setting. The take on Tower Of Power’s ‘Both Sorry Over Nothing’ doesn’t quite work though, possibly because Lenny William’s original vocal is so distinctive. So, never an album with wide soul appeal, but certainly one with some attraction.
(BB) 3/5