R L Burnside - A Bothered Mind
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R L Burnside
A Bothered Mind
Fat Possum Records (www.fatpossum.com)

R L Burnside has beat death and the devil many a time. Heart attack. Houses burned down. Fights gone wrong. A little money, a little fame late in life after so much hard hard work. Way too much whiskey, too much road. "That lazy mothafuka stole my check!," he howls on A Bothered Mind, "I want it back!" Trouble.

But he's still here, still alive on his Mississippi land, still feeling the summer heat, the winter chill, the too real, too harsh, too deep pain of life that can make a strong man drink, fight, growl the blues. Burnside doesn't play much these days. Really, he can't. His adopted son Kenny Burns played most of the guitar on his last studio album, Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down (Fat Possum), though Burnside delivered some killer vocals. Now Burns and Burnside's grandson Cedric Burnside carry on the family performing tradition as Burns and Burnside.

Yet the old man's tough spirit is still there. And it shines through on R L Burnside's latest album, A Bothered Mind. Even his dark humor survives, snaking through the snarls and mean guitar lines.

This album includes a collection of unreleased R L Burnside live and studio cuts featuring both his band--great stuff from both Kenny Burns and Cedric Burnside--and R L solo from as far back as 1968. This is a treasure trove of true blues. Also built into A Bothered Mind are hiphop-blues cuts built by Kid Rock's mixmaster Tino Gross from recorded RLB vocals and featuring both Kid Rock himself and rapper Lyrics Born on additional vocals. These are interesting mixes and follow up well on R L's tradition of expanding his music's reach to new and younger listeners, as he did in his collaborations with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion some years back.

At age 77, R L Burnside goes way back, and its been a hard road for him, moments of glory flashing out from long stretches of suffering. Ain't that the blues defined, really? R L Burnside always has had what the blues is. He offers a good taste of that strong medicine on A Bothered Mind. Do yourself a favor and get some. - Bill Nevins

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