Ex-Stones guitarist proves he’s still got the blues
Apart from the occasional reunion with The Rolling Stones, Mick Taylor has been suspiciously quiet these past few decades. His solo output has been sporadic to the say the least, releasing just a smattering of live and studio albums since the late 1970’s. Recorded in Hungary in 2001, but not issued until 2007, Little Red Rooster is a fine addition to the guitarist’s catalogue, and is also one his most bluesy. However apart from Status Quo’s John Coghlan on drums, it will also be the inclusion of the late Noel Redding that will attract some interest from fans of Jimi Hendrix, for whom Noel, if you didn’t already know, played bass in Jimi’s first rock power trio from 1966 until his departure in 1969.
The Hendrix connection begins with first track “Catfish Blues”, a fourteen minute guitar blowout on which Taylor effortlessly switches between slide and straight picking (with a little wah wah thrown in, just for something different). Taylor’s never possessed a particularly strong singing voice, but I’d rather listen to him than some flashy session pro any day. The momentum continues with a song that will likely attract the listener’s attention, with an extended cover of Hendrix’s “Red House”, something which Redding must have revelled in. Taylor is superb throughout, adding his own personality to what remains one of Jimi’s most popular blues songs.
Howlin’ Wolf’s “Little Red Rooster” has Taylor playing some appetizing slide, and he does a damn fine job too. Of course The Stones recorded and performed their own version back in the early days, so it’s nice to hear Taylor place his own unique stamp on this timeless tune. Next is another classic, “You Shook Me”, played by everyone from Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Jeff Beck, to Led Zeppelin, as well as probably a million other musicians. Naturally this is another heavy slide workout, along with excellent backing by Redding and Coghlan, before Taylor makes mince meat out of Albert King’s “I Wonder Why”, delivering another lengthy performance and one which draws the LP to a more than satisfying close.
For fans of Mick Taylor, or blues-rock guitar in general, this is the album for you. Nothing too challenging, or flamboyant, just three experienced musicians playing some honest down to earth music the way this sort of music ought to be played. No bullshit, no pretention. Although long out of print, Little Red Rooster is a requisite purchase for old and young alike. If you ever see a copy, grab it while you can (or get onto Youtube, but that’s not quite the same is it?).