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Picks and Pans Review: Round Two

updated 12/16/1991 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/16/1991 01:00AM

Drink Small

A former member of the popular '50s gospel group the Spiritualaires, bluesman Small here works not-so-small wonders by teaming his gravel-pit vocals with his quicksilver style on electric and slide guitar.

As the title suggests, this is Small's second recording for the Atlanta-based Ichiban label. His first, The Blues Doctor (1988), was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award in the traditional blues category. Small again establishes his command of several blues idioms, including country blues, jump blues and soul. Small's gospel-rich voice bears comparison to Taj Mahal and Lazy Lester. While "Can I Come over Tonight?" is no pearl of the love-talk genre, Small's vocal nevertheless has the roomy, relaxed quality of Lou Rawls or that earlier, big-voiced tempter Joe Turner.

With this fine release, Small makes less likely the fate he contemplates in "I'm Tired Now," where he sings, "I've been playing the blues for a mighty long time/ If I don't soon make it y'all/ I'm going back to South Carolina/ I'm gonna sit right down on my behind." (Ichiban)

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