Exposé Online banner

James Blood Ulmer — Blue Blood
(Innerhythmic INR005, 2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Blue Blood Cover art

One of the things about blues music that always loses my interest is the relative lack of harmonic sophistication: the blues almost by definition stick to a set of three or four chords for each key, and melodies stay mostly within the pentatonic scale. So when a guitar pioneer James Blood Ulmer, after years of exploration at the boundaries of jazz and rock, takes a stab at original songs based on the blues, I’m more than a little intrigued. Some of the vocal tunes come off like a warped version of John Lee Hooker, especially on the album’s opener “O Gentle One,” with solos stepping a bit outside standard tonality. Ulmer, in addition to his harmonic exploration, also uses many effects to good effect, unlike most traditional blues guitarists. Among the vocal tracks are some great instrumentals (“As It Is” and “Momentarily” are the best) with funky grooves and flute doubling the guitar melodies. Producer Bill Laswell contributes some squonky wah-wah bass, and Bernie Worell gets in some great organ work. These tunes remind me of some of the best funk-jazz-fusion of the 70s, like Lenny White. The lyrics on tend toward the gospel side of blues, with two songs centering on religious themes. The other three vocal songs center on love and longing. I have to admit a preference for the instrumental pieces over the vocal ones.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Bernie Worrell, Bill Laswell, James Blood Ulmer

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Electrum - Frames of Mind – Here are three guys who love Rush and decided to record an album together of songs influenced by the Canadian trio. It's a scenario I've seen played out over and over (see Afterlife in these...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues