1/ Herbert Harper's Free Press News (Barnes,Thurston) 5.20 2/ Lucky in Love (Jagger) 5.15 3/ Is It Because I'm Black (Johnson,Jones,Watts) 4.50 4/ Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone (Barker,Wilson,Davis) 3.53 5/ Smokestack Lightning (Burnett) 5.07 6/ Black Midnight Sun (Sylvian,Moore,Brown,Williams)4.58 7/ She's a Burglar (Ragovoy) 4.39 8/ Truly Your Friend (Peterson,Washington) 5.19 9/ Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothing (Brown,Byrd) 4.12 10/ Changes Your Ways (Peterson,Washington) 5.29 11/ Thank You for Talkin' To Me Africa (Stewart) 5.59 Created at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey, March-April 2002 Engineered by Robert Musso Assistant: James Dellatacoma Material Inc.: John Brown Axiom: Bill Murphy French Connection and Coordination: Michael Lemesre/Material Unlimited, Paris Produced by Bill Laswell Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studios, NYCLucky Peterson: guitar, organ, electric piano, synthesizer, vocal; Bill Laswell: bass; Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey: drums; Alex J. Harding: baritone saxophone; Graham Haynes: cornet; Jesse Dulman: tuba; Henry Threadgill: flute.
Horns arranged by Henry Threadgill
2003 - Dreyfus Jazz (France), FDM 36643-2 (CD)
Peterson can really boogie, and you'll definitely find yourself doing the same. However, heavily burdened with my own prejudice, I was expecting pure incandescence. Aside from an amazingly gritty and funky version of "Smokestack Lightning" that would make Wolf proud and an admirable version of "Thank You for Talkin' to Me Africa," you get very brief glimpses of the brilliance of which these three stars are capable. On its own, this disc is very nice, and if Peterson, Threadgill and Laswell's names weren't attached, I'd be celebrating it to high heaven. However, since they are, a part of me can't help but be disappointed.
Bill Campbell (courtesy of the Ink 19 website)
Blues man multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson has really outdone himself with Black Midnight Sun. This album features Peterson at his best as far as performance goes. Additionally, avant-garde producer Bill Laswell lends his talent to the album by doubling as the bassist and producer. The music on Black Midnight Sun consists of hearty blues punctuated by sharp guitar fills, electronic frills, and smoky vocals that fit the album perfectly. Tracks from a diverse assortment of artists (including Mick Jagger and James Brown) are given an entirely new sound on this recording. In fact, some of these bluesy songs are even spliced together with bits of psychedelic rock, soul, and funk, so there is nothing boring or predictable about Black Midnight Sun.
The funky rendition of Muddy Waters’ "Herbert Harper's Free Press News" kicks off the album with some acid-jazz music and deep vocals, while "Lucky In Love" successfully combines whispery ambient music with processed melodies and emotional vocals. Blues riffs and funky synthesized noises mesh on "Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone" to make a humorous, upbeat blues song, and the cacophony of "Smokestack Lightning" is amusing thanks to its unlikely combination of traditional blues instruments with the unconventional flute. Title track, "Black Midnight Sun" is a perfectly executed blues song with understated vocals and fiery guitar playing, while "Truly Your Friend" is a more traditional blues song with a laid-back and almost conversational playing style. Overall, Lucky Peterson’s Black Midnight Sun is the perfect album for any blues fan that appreciates a great deal of variation and originality in their music.
Summary: Avant-garde blues album consisting of imaginative cover songs
courtesy of the InternetEd website
The thing that I like best about Lucky Peterson is also my one criticism of him. I think he should write more original songs, yet at the same time, I love the covers that he does. On this new recording, Lucky covers material by James Brown and Sly Stone among others. In the past he's done songs made famous by people like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, the Isley Brothers, and Prince. When someone like Michael Bolton tries this, all he does is make an ass of himself. With Lucky however, it's a different story. As far as I'm concerned, even among this group of musicians, Lucky Peterson is the freaking ace of spades.
What Lucky does is he takes all of these influences and fuses them into his own personal style and sound. He is a very modern and very urban bluesman who has a natural funk/soul/rock thing going on. His live performances are now legendary and the only thing he does better than play the B3 organ is play the electric guitar. He is the real deal and the complete package.
On "Black Midnight Sun" Lucky has turned to a funkier sound. If you're familiar with his previous work then I would say that this one is more like the "Lifetime" disc than the "Move" disc. In fact, playing drums on this recording is former P-Funk member Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey. New York based Bill Laswell is the bass player. There's also a small horn section as well.
Every song on this disc is interesting and worth writing about but there are a couple in particular I'd like to touch on. Lucky does a take on the Mick Jagger song "Lucky In Love" and when I first heard it I wondered why it took him so long to cover such an obvious choice. He also does the popular blues standard "Smokestack Lightning" as if it were an acid/rock tune. I can't wait to play this one for my deadhead friends! Another song that Lucky covers is the Syl Johnson tune "Is It Because I'm Black." This is a truly heartfelt ballad and one that Lucky has been showcasing at his recent concerts. And speaking of heartfelt, the one original song here is a gospel number called "Truly Your Friend." When Lucky sings the words "I need you Lord my God to help me stand firm each day," you know he means it and you're rooting for him.
Dreyfus Records is a new label for Lucky Peterson after years with Blue Thumb and other subsidiaries of the Verve music group. It is more of a jazz label that, until now, I was unfamiliar with. The important thing however is that it hasn't affected the bottom line product. I don't think I'd go as far as to say that this is Lucky's best record ever because he's had so many great records. What I will say is that this record continues his string of excellence.
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Bill Harriman (courtesy of the Sound Waves Magazine website)