Bob Margolin's Travels Have Resulted in the Great Stories of 'My Road' [REVIEW]
Guitarist, composer and vocalist (in that order) Bob Margolin has played on the biggest stages of the world during his half-century career as a top blues sideman and solo artist. Seven years in the Muddy Waters band from 1973 to 1979-both in the studio and on the road-brought him to The Band's Last Waltz and Chicago's legendary Chess Records. Travel My Road (Steady Rollin' Records/VizzTone Label Group) with a guy like Margolin and you're sure to get three chords and the truth.
What he lacks vocally, he makes up for lyrically. He's like an old friend, intimate without being innovative, comfortable without being impressive. He sings about his own heroes and mentions names. Hardcore blues fans love the same guys he loves and in his conversational style, he has some great stories to tell about the back roads, the great artists and the dusty bars that litter America's highways.
Produced by Grammy-winner Michael Freeman in North Carolina with Margolin singing and playing guitar, Chuck Cotton on drums and Tad Walters on harp and guitar; Margolin's tales ring true, especially on opener "My Whole Life" where he encapsulates his life story in 2:39. In song after song, especially "Young And Old Blues," "I Shall Prevail" and "Understanding Heart," his straight-from-the-heart storytelling captures the mind but not the feet. In fact, I'd rather sit and ponder the mysteries behind his philosophy than dance to this stuff...and therein lies its problem.
Sure, he certainly chose two "discreeto pickos" as we used to say in my own bar band of the '70s: "Feelin' Right Tonight" by the underground rockabilly legend Tex Rubinowitz (whose cult following is small but rabid), and "Bye Bye Baby," the 1957 regional hit by Nappy Brown [1929-2008]. One has to dig pretty damn deep to resurrect those two. Margolin, besides being a died-in-the-wool blues composer-guitarist, also happens to be a blues historian-journalist, so his road is worth recounting. Still, I don't know whether I'd rather talk to him repeatedly to hear the stories he must have or have to listen to My Road repeatedly. I think I'd choose the former.