Monday, January 04, 2010

T Model Ford - The Ladies Man

T Model Ford
The Ladies Man

It’s been a while since T Model Ford hit the recording studio, but rumors of his retirement/death have, to pimp a cliché, been greatly exaggerated. At 88, one of the great surviving North Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen may need to turn the volume down a bit by wielding an acoustic guitar instead of a noisy cheap-ass electric, but his libido is as spry as ever. Recorded in a small studio in Wichita, Kansas in about three hours with a small group of young players who mostly just stay out of Ford’s way, The Ladies Man concerns, as always, love and the lack of it, and by love, we mean humpin’ and bumpin’. Ford hasn’t the haunted threat of Junior Kimbrough, the unrestrained (snake) drive of RL Burnside or the burning intensity of Robert Belfour – he’s a lover first and foremost, and if he can’t have fun doin’ “it,” why do it at all? I Love You Baby, That’s Alright and Hip Shaking Woman do the thinking with the little head, crooking their fingers with Ford’s distinctive (sour) mash-up of undisguised lust and eyebrow-cocked dignity. Ford tips his baseball cap to his peers and forebears as well, giving tunes from the catalogs of Muddy Waters (Two Trains), Little Walter (My Babe) and Lightnin’ Hopkins (Love Me All Night Long, AKA Rock Me, Baby) a turn with his husky pipes. With stories and commentary interspersed betwixt the tunes, The Ladies Man has the relaxed feel of an informal jam session, a vibe that works to Ford’s advantage in emphasizing good times and a friendly atmosphere over tortured souls and visiting hellhounds.

- Michael Toland
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