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Old School 

Koko Taylor

Alligator; Release date: April 3, 2007

The Deal: Blustery blueswoman Koko Taylor roars back to life in top form.

The Good: "This is hard core blues," Koko Taylor proclaims in the liner notes for her latest Alligator release, Old School. It's what Taylor's been up to her entire career. She's never backed off her bombastic, over-the-top style of floor shakin', shoutin' blues. Taylor just rears back and lets it fly, her vocals a jubilant roar. Her "Piece Of Man" sets the tone for the record, a raucous celebration led by Billy Branch's howlin' harp and some blistering guitar by producer Criss Johnson. "Gonna Buy Me A Mule" is a rattly ramble in the "Wang Dang Doodle" vein. "You Ain't Worth A Good Woman" is Koko in fine form, struttin', testifyin'. It's a wonder she can sing at all. Suffering from complications following surgery for internal bleeding in 2003, Taylor feared her career, not to mention her life, might be over. But in her first record in seven years, Taylor sounds like her old rough and ready self. "Better Watch Your Step" is Taylor at her best, layin' down the law to a no-good man. This is great stuff, with plenty of punch and power from front to back, the strongest thing Taylor's done to date. It's a great comeback from a blues icon with plenty left to give.

The Bad: Nothing to report. You can play this one from start to finish with no problem.

The Verdict: This old school is one you'll be coming back to study at time and time again.

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