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Jimmy Thackery & John Mooney "Sideways in Paradise" Blind Pig

January 20, 1994|MIKE BOEHM

You may have heard Taj Mahal do a traditional song called "Bullfrog Blues." On the all-acoustic "Sideways in Paradise," the Thackery-Mooney duo introduces the tree-frog blues.

"Sideways in Paradise" was taken from previously unavailable 1985 sessions the two players conducted poolside at a Jamaican resort. As they trade hot guitar licks and husky vocals, they are accompanied by an ever-present chorus of tree frogs, whose chirping and peeping sound more or less like a forest full of crickets. The frogs add to the atmosphere on "I'll Come Running Back," a pop-folk ballad that has a moonlit shimmer. That song and "Take Time," a soul-style ballad reminiscent of Otis Redding, lend an eclectic touch to an album devoted mainly to straight country blues. The use of mandolin on several tracks and the inclusion of some good, modern blues material also help the duo deliver its own take on a venerable form.

Thackery made his name in the '70s and '80s with the Nighthawks, a Washington electric blues band, while Mooney has been walking in the steps of Delta blues men since the early 1970s and sounds fully authentic and at ease in the acoustic slide guitar tradition. The relaxed, intimate circumstances of the session come across, yet the sound quality is punchy and immediate.

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