Blind Pig Records
BluesWax Rating: 9 out of 10
Floating on Cloud Nine
Who came here looking for a reason to buy a Pinetop Perkins album? I don’t need to give you any reason other than the fact that he was a one-of-a-kind musician. The only thing I can’t tell you is how much Pinetop you have in your collection and how much green is in your pocket. So I will tell you what I do know about this recording of the one and only Mr. Pinetop Perkins.
While Heaven is a new release, it was recorded in 1988. Pinetop was about seventy-three at the time and these are the “B” sides from his After Hours album. While the After Hours album was mainly band tracks with Little Mike and the Tornadoes, Heaven is mostly solo piano pieces. Mike and his windstorm are on four tracks here.
What really makes Heaven worth its weight in pennies are the two vocals that were recorded in 2011 for this album. One is from soul man Otis Clay, making “Since I Fell for You” a beautifully crafted piece of art, something so precious you’ve got to witness it. Then, in one of his last recordings, is Pinetop’s cohort Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on the song they both went out on “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” Willie sounds so sweet over Pine’s slow piano that you can’t help but feel them joyous blues.
This album is a fitting release to put out after his career has ended on this earth; we know he is in the best band now. The mood on the album is not in Pinetop’s boogie ways, but more a reserved vintage. Heaven is a laid-back place that you don’t want to leave. There is no rush to get through this album, put this disc in when you are driving in rush hour traffic and you won’t feel those white knuckles.
The track selection is crisp as a five-star hotel’s linen. There are some classics: “44 Blues,” “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,” “Ida B,” and “Sweet Home Chicago.” I don’t think you could release an album of Pinetop titled “Heaven” without “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie.” He also does the jazz standard “Willow Weep for Me” with a subtle landscape of a Gauguin painting. This song fits right into the mix of the rest of the album.
There are my reasons to consider Pinetop Perkin’s Heaven. I can’t think of a time when putting in a Pinetop album wouldn’t suit one of my countless moods. Heaven is peaceful and happy without being pretentious. Go to your local McDonald’s and grab a meal in honor of Pinetop and relax on your commute. Pinetop would have preferred it that way.
Kyle M. Palarino is a contributing editor at BluesWax.
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