MICHAEL “IRON MAN” BURKS – SHOW OF STRENGTH
Format: CD Label: Alligator Records / Release: 21 August 2012
A powerhouse performer, Michael Burks was one of the blues’ top live draws, headlining festivals all over the world. His records were equally celebrated, with his last release, 2008’s Iron Man, called “a knockout” by Mojo magazine and “exceptional, exquisite and wicked” in Billboard. Show Of Strength, recorded earlier this year, is absolutely bursting with the white-hot intensity that made Burks one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation. His sudden death in May of this year robbed the blues world of one of its brightest stars.
Show Of Strength is Michael Burks at his peak, exploding with fierce, gritty guitar work and smoky, soul-charged singing. From the fiery opener, “Count On You,” to the majestic closer, Charlie Rich’s “Feel Like Going Home,” it’s shot through and through with the immense strength and spirit of this modern-day blues hero.
Burks’ final album, Show Of Strength (on which he wrote or co-wrote five of the album’s 12 tracks), was recorded and finished just prior to his untimely death. From the explosive opening blast of Count On You to the closing strains of Charlie Rich’s elegiac Feel Like Going Home, Burks’ signature combination of feral yet tuneful guitar work with his gritty, dynamic vocals provided a searing, emotional autobiography in blues. According to Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, “It was my decision to leave this album as we intended it, not as a memorial to a friend and bluesman gone, but as a living, breathing statement, sent straight from Michael’s heart and soul. Although Michael is not here, the music he recorded is indeed his show of his immense strength and spirit. It will live on, confirming forever his status as one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation.”
1. Count On You 4:51
2. Take A Chance On Me, Baby 5:17
3. Storm Warning 4:14
4. Can You Read Between The Lines? 5:01
5. Cross Eyed Woman 6:12
6. Little Juke Joint 5:59
7. 24 Hour Blues 4:59
8. Valley Of Tears 4:01
9. Since I Been Loving You 7:29
10. I Want To Get You Back 4:00
11. What Does It Take To Please You? 4:12
12. Feel Like Going Home 5:39
Michael Burks Guitars and Vocals
Wayne Sharp Organ, Piano and Background Vocals
Terrence Grayson Bass and Background Vocals
Chuck “Popcorn” Louden Drums and Background Vocals
Roosevelt Purifoy Keyboards on “Feel Like Going Home,” additional keyboards on “24 Hour Blues” and “Take A Chance On Me, Baby”
Scott Dirks Harmonica on “Little Juke Joint”
Produced by Michael Burks and Bruce Iglauer
It’s almost impossible to believe that this will be the last album from Michael Burks, the Iron Man of the blues. The final mixes had just been completed while he was on a European tour, and they were waiting for him at his home. He never got a chance to hear them; this gentle giant died suddenly of heart failure on May 6, 2012, at the age of 54.
Michael was so proud of this album, his fourth for Alligator. He and I both believed that it would be the one that finally propelled him into the top echelon of blues musicians, where he certainly deserved to be. He had been poised for that position for almost a decade, earning ever-increasing fame with his blistering gigs and soulful recordings. He might have gotten there a lot sooner, but in his 20s he had chosen family over career. He had put away his guitar for years while he raised his beloved daughter Brittney in their southern Arkansas hometown of Camden. It was only when she was a teenager that he returned to his music and hit the long, dues-paying highway toward what passes for stardom in the blues world. From local and regional gigs to national and international club and festival stages, Michael’s reputation and fan following was built one sweaty, hours-long gig at a time.
It was in Camden where Michael first honed his music, playing from his very early teens in his family’s juke joint, The Bradley Ferry Country Club. He already had a blues bloodline; both his father and grandfather were bluesmen. Michael was very proud of his musical heritage. It wasn’t easy to get him to talk about himself, but he could talk all night long about the bluesmen and women he had played with and idolized, and, above all, his first teacher—his father, Frederick Burks.
Working with Michael on four albums, seeing him burn up bandstands across the country, hanging out with him backstage, attending his late-night barbeques at the campground at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas and visiting Michael and his wife Bobbie at their home in North Little Rock, I got to know not only Michael Burks the bluesman, but also Michael Burks the man. I saw firsthand his devotion to his family (he would stop each recording session nightly to phone his wife and his grandchildren), his loyalty to his friends and band members, and his “Iron Man” work ethic (often driving his own van hundreds of miles before unloading his own gear and delivering three or four hours of non-stop music). Michael was not only a top-quality bluesman; he was a top-quality human being.
It was my decision to leave this album as we intended it, not as a memorial to a friend and bluesman gone, but as a living, breathing statement, sent straight from Michael’s heart and soul. Although Michael is not here, the music he recorded is indeed his show of his immense strength and spirit. It will live on, confirming forever his status as one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation.
Ojee ik ga weer arm worden
Ik zal de CD met tranen in de ogen beluisteren………………………….
was een mooie gig in Wenters