Malkum & Chris

Malkum & Chris

Yes, I Want to Go


A lot of words apply to Malkum & Chris — “impressive facial hair,” say — but “original” isn’t one of them. And neither would they want it to be. Malkum & Chris, see, take great pride in their blues heritage, and their way of playing the blues in “the traditional way,” as it is. Ironically enough, of course, they’re probably filling a void with this, as not too many people actually do this any longer. So all praise to them. But is it any good?

If what you’re looking for is some straightforward, honestly played, down-home blues, then yes, you’ve found it. But again, if you’re looking for as much as just a slight trace of originality, look elsewhere. True enough, the two of them have written a couple of the tracks themselves, at the very least, but those are run-of-the-mill 12-bar blues variations, and sub-standard compared to the rest of the selections. As it should be. And they do seem to have both a great passion for and a knowledge of the blues, as not only have they picked hard-to-find gems from Ledbetter, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, and others, tracks that certainly stand the test of time, but their jams are pretty feverish and dedicated a lot of the time. And they’re impressively full-sounding considering their basic set-up of guitar and harmonica — where Chris’ single guitar has to carry the whole weight a lot of the time. But there’s not much to keep up interest during the full album, and the loose spontaneity and joy that should’ve flowed over from this — as it undoubtedly did in the studio — don’t come across on tape too often. Malkum & Chris seem to be fervent performers with their hearts in the right place, but you’re probably better off experiencing them in a live setting.

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