The blind Canadian guitarist doffs an obliging hat to a few of his blues idols and other artists on this 12-song cover collection. Healey has attracted a following with his fiery six-string prowess and his unorthodox playing style (sitting down with the guitar flat on his lap). These are some of the songs that his fans have heard him wail into the wee hours of the morning.
Subtlety is not in his repertoire, so the old down-and-dirty blues numbers fare best in Healey's calloused fingers. The blustery barroom swagger of Big Joe Williams's "Highway 49" is better suited to his style than Hendrix's heavenly "Angel," which Healey plays with too heavy a hand. But not many folks would have the chutzpah to turn Stealers Wheel's 1973 hit "Stuck in the Middle with You" into a danceable rave-up. If you've never seen Healey in his natural habitat—imagine any smoky bar with a free-flowing beer tap—this is a good enough sampler of his gritty work. (Arista)