Hobo blues busker’s best is worth checking out

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DECADES of living life on the streets and riding the rails seep out of every single track on ‘Walkin’ Man, The Best of Seasick Steve’.

Having only come to prominence five years ago when aged 65, Seasick Steve has since released five albums, songs from which fill 21 tracks on this compilation. Steve’s blues style is drenched with influence and yet retains its own individuality, with his trademark homemade guitars another essential ingredient in the Seasick sound.

The album opens with the hypnotic ‘Dog House Boogie’ which hints at Howlin’ Wolf. Other stand-out tracks are the Gospel-influenced duet ‘Happy Man’ and the blues-bopper ‘Don’t Know Why She Love Me But She Do’.

The mood swings to country-folk with the Guy Clark-esque ‘Walkin’ Man’ and towards a heavier metal sound with ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’. Steve’s voice is at its gravelly best on ‘Never Go West’.

‘Xmas Prison Blues’ is plaintive and the moody ‘Dark’ ranks alongside Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ for intensity.

The review copy of the album came with a live DVD. Very few tracks are duplicated from the CD and to really appreciate Seasick Steve at his best, seeing him live or a DVD thereof is a must. ‘Diddley Bo’ is reprised, as is the equally excellent ‘Thunderbird’ which is reminiscent of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Run Through The Jungle’.

Although not a patch on Hank Williams’ original, Steve’s cover of ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ is a welcome addition.

The DVD also includes the BBC documentary on Seasick Steve entitled ‘Bringing It All Back Home’, which makes the complete package an essential purchase for the dedicated fan or the initiate alike.

Review: John Burgess