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Get Up! (Deluxe) PAL, DVD-Video
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Ben Harper has teamed with renowned harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite to create Get Up!, a piercing song-cycle of struggle and heart. Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Harper, Get Up!, is his 12th studio album and first new recording since 2011's Give Till It's Gone.
A striking mix of blues, gospel, roots and R&B, Get Up! features ten vivid musical character studies, skillfully rendered in cinematic detail. Charlie Musselwhite's searing point/counter-point harmonica accentuates Harper's vocals throughout the album tieing the songs together into a cohesive musical whole. The band, including Jason Mozersky on guitar, Jesse Ingalls on bass and Jordan Richardson on drums plays with economical grit, lending the songs true understanding and authority.
If a case needs to be made for blues music in the mainstream – and really, given the story of Adele, it shouldn’t – this meeting of crack talents from two generations fits the brief.
Ben Harper has been exploring the rootsy end of the pop spectrum for more than 20 years without ever identifying himself with a genre. He has mixed vintage jazz with beatboxing and even covered Strawberry Fields Forever.
But it has been in dialogue that his gifts have flourished, and the passing years have found him an increasingly productive collaborator.
Maybe it’s something to do with the pliant lightness of his voice, or the way his musical interests can wander, but these collaborations have added heft to an always-engaging career. Harper’s 2004 release with The Blind Boys of Alabama,There Will Be a Light, may have been the most satisfying record by either of them – and it’s well trumped by this terrific two-hander.
“I only know one tune,” has been Charlie Musselwhite’s confession – but what a tune. This is the veteran whose third wedding featured John Lee Hooker as best man, and since his sensational debut in the 60s blues boom he has earned an unequalled reputation as a harmonica man.
Now sweet, now rasping, and always chorusing and counterpointing with the keenest ears around, Musselwhite’s dialogue with Harper’s soulful tenor and punchy guitar is pure Astaire and Rogers.
Fans of the harmonica player might think him too much the straight man here, but the presence of living history has Harper at the top of his game.
There are wide, colourful horizons to Get Up!’s “one tune”, from the clapping gospel chorus of We Can’t End This Way to the bubbling bass riff of the title track, or in the way the stripped-down slow burn of Don’t Look Twice gives way to the blast of the full band.
All the way through, Musselwhite’s subtle, rich-toned commentary maintains a focus. So you’ll hear echoes of Jimi Hendrix, the Blind Boys and even the laidback groove of Jack Johnson here, but make no mistake: this is the blues.
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Top customer reviews
Here the songs and singing are provided by Ben Harper with Charlie adding his distinctive melodic flourishes, as on the opening number "Don't look twice" which starts off as a typical Ben Harper slide-based ballad but then Charlie's harmonica playing takes it to a different place, giving it an almost Tom Waits-like feel. Elsewhere "I'm in I'm out I'm gone", "I don't believe a word you say" and "Blood side out" are all tough bluesy songs with Ben's full band and driven by the harp and guitar, while "She got kick" is also very bluesy but has lead guitar up front and very subdued harp. "We can't end this way" is a nice gospel song complete with backup vocals. Two of my favourite tracks are the two slow acoustic ballads "You found another lover" and the closing "All that matters now", both very moving. This is a very loose, relaxed record - it's not the best thing that either artist has done but it is a rewarding listen with both men really gelling and complementing each other.
Harper and Musselwhite are a match made in heaven - this is the kind of music I want to play and perform - they inspire me!
Stand out tracks....I'm in I'm Out and I'm Gone, I don't Believe a Word You Say, I Ride at Dawn - BUT EVERY SINGLE TRACK IS FANTASTIC TOO...!
I've heard Ben Harper in many styles over the years - for me, this is his finest hour - I hope there will be a follow up with Charlie - for me, one of the true blues harp greats - and hero of mine, and a splendid, superb harmonica musician.
BUY THIS CD AT ALL COSTS - YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!
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