The Midnight Special: Live In Nottingham 1957

Big Bill Broonzy

ORG Music, 2020

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Even though the 6 foot 6 inch tall Big Bill Broonzy recorded hundreds of songs from the late '20 up through the '50s, most of us have never heard of the prolific blues musician. On this solo performance, Broonzy brings his proficient acoustic guitar and inimitable pipes to 14 tracks of traditionals and originals.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Broonzy opens up the set with the firm gospel sounds of “This Train,” but it isn't long before his sturdy blues flavor comes through in the original “Willie Me.” Meanwhile, his powerful pipes are on full display in the stunning setting of “In The Evening,” where Broonzy's picking is unparalleled.

Other standout tracks from the first side include the pop sensibilities of “Glory Of Love,” though the spiritual angle of “What Kind Of Man Jesus Is” might be the best from side A.

Side B gets off to a lively start with the ragtime influences of “Keep Your Hands Off It,” and this energy continues to the sublime singing and guitar acrobatics of the jazzy “Nobody's Business.”

Deeper into the listen, humor is present on the religious fun of “The Feasting Table,” and Broonzy then delivers a fascinating and sing-along quality to “Sweet Low Sweet Chariot” in a version that you've never quite imagined. “Goodnight Irene” exits the listen with a timeless folk tune executed with a raw reading.

A legend who inspired household names like Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards, Broonzy passed away shortly after this show due to lung cancer. A visionary who played Chicago blues, Delta blues, and who also dabbled in country and folk sounds, this late period recording truly captures Broonzy's artistic and genuine spirit.

As always, Org puts together the complete package with vivid cover art and liner notes to accompany the mastering pulled from the original analog tape. But don't worry, there's still plenty of grit to be found on these gems.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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