Johnny Heartsman – The Touch (1991)

Johnny Heartsman - The Touch (1991)
Artist: Johnny Heartsman
Album: The Touch
Label: Alligator Records
Year Of Release: 1991
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

Tracklist:
01. Serpent’s Touch
02. Paint My Mailbox Blue
03. You’re So Fine
04. Tongue
05. Attitude
06. Got To Find My Baby
07. The Butler Did It
08. Please Don’t Be Scared Of My Love
09. Oops
10. Walkin’ Blues
11. Let Me Love You, Baby
12. Heartburn
13. Endless
14. Tongue (unexpurgated version)

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Few electric bluesman have been more versatile than Johnny Heartsman, and that versatility is impossible miss on The Touch. Recorded when Heartsman was 54, this unpredictable CD finds the singer incorporating soul and funk as well as rock and jazz and playing guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, and flute. Heartsman (who shouldn’t be confused with the late jazz singer Johnny Hartman) gets into a soul-minded groove on “Got to Find My Baby” and “You’re so Fine,” while “Attitude,” “Walkin’ Blues,” and “Paint My Mailbox Blue” favor a hard-swinging blues/jazz approach à la Jimmy Witherspoon. Those jazz-influenced selections make it sound like Heartsman is backed by a soul-jazz organ combo, but in fact, there is no organist on this CD-rather, Heartsman uses his keyboards to emulate a Jimmy Smith/Jack McDuff type of Hammond B-3 sound. Meanwhile, instrumentals like the moody “Tongue” and the funk-drenched “Oops” illustrate his mastery of the flute; an unlikely instrument for a bluesman, to be sure. But then, certain jazz improvisers have demonstrated how funky the flute can sound – most notably, Herbie Mann, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Hubert Laws – and similarly, the flute sounds like a very natural, logical blues instrument in Heartsman’s risk-taking hands. Superb from start to finish, The Touch makes one wish that the late Californian had done a lot more recording as a leader.

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