Roy Book Binder - Live At The Fur Peace Station/Singer-Songwriter Bluesman (Peg Leg Records)
Roy won't mind me saying but he's been around for a while now but during that time he's mingled with some of the best in the business. On this live album, he gives us a flavour of people he's known, including the Reverend Gary David, from whom he learned very much. Book Binder's guitar style is very gentle, acoustic finger-picking and his vocals are as equally gentle. This album has 17 tracks interspersed with an introduction for each and he opens with one of his self-written songs, What You Gonna Do, that introduces us to his tender country blues. Baby Let Me Lay It On You is the first of a trio of Reverend Gary Davis songs and Roy makes it sound so easy even though he hasn't played it on stage for 25 years. As Roy regales us with stories of Davis he also shows us his wry humour. He then goes on to give us a great version of Delia before reminding himself that he can't sing one of the nightclub verses from Jelly Roll (too lewd). This is a highlight of the album and provides finger-picking of the highest class. Three Times Seven, written by Merle Travis. is more of the gentle, easy going material and his second self-written song, Full Go Around makes it obvious that he soaked up everything from the blues greats that he has known and gives it his own stamp. Ragtime Millionaire is a William Moore song and gives Roy the chance to flit between country blues and ragtime which he does seamlessly. Innuendo abounds on Dave Van Ronk's Yas Yas Yas and Roy turns in an outstanding performance.
Cocaine Blues is another Reverend Gary Davis song and it's the same gentle style again but that is what these songs call for. He turns to Pink Anderson for CC & O Blues which turns out to be a bit faster than most but the quality is not lost. Roy stays with Pink Anderson for Travellin' Man and shows his top quality fingering skills again. It's Mississippi John Hurt next and Mermaids Flirt With Me. The first time that I heard this song was when I picked it up on a David Johansen album and I love this song. Needless to say, I love this version too and Roy gives it a very sympathetic treatment. Charlie Stone, written by Larry Johnson, is another example of Roy's well played country blues and Luke Jordan's Won't You Be Kind has Roy flirting on the edge, as many blues songs do. The sign of a great musician is that he makes it sound so easy and that is exactly what Roy does on Billy Joe Shaver's Chunk Of Cool. He finishes with songs from another two greats, Jimmy Murphy and Jessie Thomas. Murphy's song is Electricity and Roy's playing is simply electric. Jessie Thomas' Another Friend Of Mine is chosen for the closing song and the upbeat finish rounds off what is an excellent introduction into the world of Roy Book Binder.
Singer-Songwriter Bluesman opens with Roy's gentle blues on It's Gonna Be Alright Someday. I think it's his clear lines, both vocally and musically, that wins over his audiences. This is further confirmed with The Preacher Picked The Guitar ? simply wonderful. St. Pete Blues sees him in reflective mood as he remembers his mentors Pink Anderson and Rev. Gary Davis. Anywhere You Go is a little more up-tempo but it still has that book Binder quintessence and the following Travelin' Man Blues is a classic country blues. The country blues theme continues with the moral tale, Can't Do That No More and Roy turns to slide guitar for She Did You A Favour, which he delivers in his own inimitable style. Gentle country blues are back on Goin' Back To Tampa but Roy turns all contemporary for New Age Woman Blues ? still creates the same high quality though. He stays in the modern idiom for Trouble In The Streets and tackles a dark subject with some gusto. Another string to his bow is the gospel influenced blues of While He Served His Time. This shows that he can stretch across the blues genre. Blind Lemon is obviously for Blind Lemon Jefferson and Roy's lovely finger picking is as fine a tribute as any. The closing tracks confirm Roy's status as one of the best exponents of acoustic blues about today. I'm Goin' Home Today is a bouncy country blues and Palm Trees Shakin' In The Night is a slide blues par excellence. Both songs and, in fact, both albums, are great examples of his song writing and show Roy Book Binder to be a master of his craft.
David Blue Sept 2006
- David Blue (NetRhythms Music)