Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up!

Posted March 4, 2013 by in



4/ 5


Producer: , ,
Label: ,
Genre: Blues
Producer: Ben Harper, Sheldon Gomberg, Jordan Richardson
Label: Stax/Concord Music Group
Format: Compact disc, Digital download, vinyl
Time: 40:27
Release Date: 29 January 2013
Spin This: "I Don't Believe a Word You Say," "I'm In I'm Out and I'm Gone," "Get Up!," "Don't Look Twice"


Raw Delta blues, solid performances and perfect mashup of Harper and Musselwhite creates a contender for best blues record of 2013


Don't expect a Stax showdown. The uncertainty of a Harper/Musselwhite reunion.

Hey, hey, the blues is alright – with Harper and Musselwhite in sight on rare collaborative effort

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Hey, hey, the blues is alright – with Harper and Musselwhite in sight on rare collaborative effort

Thanks to a tidal wave of blues-bent torchbearers storming the coastlines of popularity ranging from Alabama Shakes to the Black Keys to Gary Clark, Jr., Get Up!, Ben Harper’s latest disc, will get the proper posturing it deserves. On his first outing with the historic Stax label, Harper teams up with 69-year old harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite for a full-fledged return to barnyard blues with the blistering Down South summer heat exposing the severity of roots music. It’s almost hard to tell that this type of album was recorded far west in California (Carriage House Studios) and was culled by Harper’s acolytes who are half the age of Musselwhite. But experience is one heck of a teacher; with a twenty-year career and with over a dozen albums beneath him, Harper is taking his years of experience for one hell of a ride. For starters, Get Up! is familiar territory for Musselwhite. His career dates back to 1966 and has played alongside blues stalwarts like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy, so when the pair launch into Bo Diddley riffs on “I’m In I’m Out and I’m Gone” or raw gut-bucket adrenaline on “Blood Side Out,” they both are on one accord in putting their traditional pride on blast.

Harper’s vocals take on a host of different colors, drifting from Marvin Gaye squirms to Dan Auerbach-esque reverb. When he takes on the heavy rock-blues anthem, “I Don’t Believe a Word You Say,” his pipes, laid up against Musselwhite’s smoldering harp, show off the fiery aches from a lying cheater: “I see your mouth moving/But there’s a circus coming out.” There’s a varying display of colors inside the music as well, jumping from Otis Redding balladry (“You Found Another Lover (I Lost Another Friend”) to soul-stirring gospel (“We Can’t End This Way”). The six-minute title track surrounds itself around the melody of Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman” while displaying an amazing stuttering bass line executed by Jesse Ingalls, all worthy of ?uestlove’s attention.

If one is too frustrated with the heavy load of blues inside Get Up!, they might also gripe about the long list of jukejoint explorations, rather than the growing need to enforce more memorable sing-a-longs. But the blues isn’t exactly pop science and it’s never been something easily accessible. Get Up! feels more personal, more autobiographic. Really good blues records usually feel that way.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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