Mind Your Own Business

Snooky Pryor

Antone's / Discovery Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


No matter what your opinion on blues music is, you have to admit that the past twelve months have been tragic for the genre. We've lost, among others, Johhny "Clyde" Copeland, Junior Wells, Fenton Robinson and Luther Allison. With each passing year, we seem to be losing more and more of the people who made the genre as special as it is.

Call Snooky Pryor a survivor. One of the original purveyors of the harmonica-based blues, Pryor outlived such constituents as Muddy Waters and Big Walter Horton to achieve his greatest successes in his golden years. This is evidenced on his latest album Mind Your Own Business.

Pryor's vocal delivery and harp playing are top notch, and at the age of 76, might be that much more rich with the sound of wisdom. Backing Pryor is a solid group of musicians, including Gene Taylor from the Fabulous Thunderbirds on piano, sons Richard and Earl on guitar and bass... and to me, it's great to hear Ted Harvey, who once worked with Hound Dog Taylor, on the drums again! (Harvey shares the drum chair with James Barnes on this one.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But it is Derek O'Brien who gets co-star treatment on Mind Your Own Business with Pryor - and I'm sorry, but I just wasn't overly impressed with his lead guitar licks. No, I wasn't expecting something along the lines of Eric Clapton, but there is no spice in O'Brien's playing that sets it apart from any other guitar work.

As for the songs themselves, Mind Your Own Business contains some very good traditional blues. The E-chord droning of "I'm So Glad" will appeal to some, though it is not the best performance on the track. That honor is saved for the title track, "Diggin' My Potatoes" and "Miss Fanny Brown". When Pryor, O'Brien, son Earl on bass and Harvey really get a rhythm going, it makes you want to get up and dance for joy.

The biggest drawback, however, with the album is that it doesn't immediately grow on the listener. It took me a good three or four listens to this disc before I really could groove to it, and by that time I was tired of a few songs.

Don't get me wrong, Mind Your Own Business is definitely worth your attention, and Pryor is deserving of all the attention he gets from this album. His harmonica work speaks volumes for the history of the blues; he evokes memories of such artists like Sonny Boy Williamson and, among our living greats, James Cotton, while creating a voice all his own through the metal-encased reeds.

And as much as one would think that blues is not a happy music (those of us who know better realize this is wrong), Mind Your Own Business is a happy album that, if anything, tries to re-root us into common sense. Hence the album title.

Snooky Pryor is fortunate to be alive to have his work enjoyed by as many people as possible; we are lucky to still have him sharing his gifts with us. Mind Your Own Business is a solid, though slightly flawed, portrait for us to cherish.

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Antone's / Discovery Records, and is used for informational purposes only.