I’m not quite sure that vu-du has much to do with the sounds coming off this CD, or voodoo either, for that matter. But whatever oracle Corey and Henry felt compelled to consult before laying down these tracks, the result is fairly impressive. For die-hard fans of acoustic, old-style blues that is unencumbered by modern-day appliances or embellishments, this may be one to add to the collection.
The primary thing that distinguishes Vu-Du from those works produced by purists (whose sole interest seems to be to preserve rather than to create anew) are the sometimes politically and socially conscious lyrics of guitarist Corey Harris. Harris happens to be one of a small handful of young black men who has chosen traditional blues as his means of musical expression and has actually managed to garner some significant amount of attention for his efforts. That’s no small feat and worthy of applause.
What is also particularly strong about this CD is the piano playing of Henry Butler, who attacks and rides those untamed ivories as if they were about to rise up under his fingers and stage a riot. The passion and strength of Butler’s playing are ferocious and recall an earlier era of New Orleans boogie-woogie barrelhouse-style blues piano that is rarely heard anymore, since blues today relies far more on six skinny little screaming strings than on all those keys.
Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at [email protected].