Music Reviews

Delbert McClinton


New West

Everyone always tells me, when I mention that I am a Delbert McClinton fan, that I need to see him live to get the “full” experience. He has a way of charging up a room and magnifying the impact of each number that you know so well. So far, I’ve missed every local appearance, but his new 2 CD Live album goes a long way towards delivering that experience.

Recorded live for Norwegian radio during the Bergen Blues Festival, this 19-song performance alternately reinvigorates favorite singles and unearths deep cuts from Delbert’s many albums. In addition to several recent tracks from his 2002 Room to Breathe album, he treats us to renditions of songs from The Blues Brothers (“B-Movie Box Car Blues”), Otis Redding (“Dreams to Remember”) and Sun Studio’s Billy “The Kid” Emerson (“A Fine and Healthy Thing”). “When Rita Leaves” is still, in this reviewer’s opinion, the definitive song about heartbreak, and this live version only serves to underscore the pain felt when she burns his Mustang in the desert.

As with all well-recorded live albums, the main complaint a fan has concerns the tracks left off. Even with two discs, there are some of my favorite songs missing. I would have loved to hear a couple of the well-known singles from Never Been Rocked Enough, including “Every Time I Roll the Dice” and “Good Woman/Good Man.” But, with that being the only real complaint, I guess I will simply have to give this album a high recommendation for fans of Delbert and honky-tonk music, and just try to catch him live to hear my favorite songs.

Delbert McClinton:

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