THE BLUES DON'T BOTHER ME Matt "Guitar" Murphy Cat.# RR0037 Cover Illustration by Keith LoBue
Cover Photo by Videler
"This writer recalls that at one time Buddy Guy named the two best guitarists in Chicago as the late Earl Hooker and Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Murphy, to my knowledge no longer lives in Chicago, but a quarter century later is still among the premiere blues guitarists.
He worked in the Memphis area with Howlin‚ Wolf and Junior Parker before hooking up with Memphis Slim, adding his distinctive guitar styling to such classic Slim recordings...as The Comeback, Memphis Slim U.S.A., Steppin Out and Blue and Lonesome. A fixture in Chicago studios in the early sixties, he toured and recorded with James Cotton during the seventies and while leading his own band today, is best known as a member of The Blues Brothers Band.
While he has recorded extensively as a sideman, his new Roesch recording is (I believe) only his second album as a leader, and shows off his awesome guitar skills, as well as his overlooked compositional talents, which covers considerable musical territory from straight musical shuffles to funk and bop instrumentals, and reggae-blues. While most of the vocals here are handled by Howard Eldridge, Murphy contributes to the title track and Strut Your Stuff, which are appealing with his straightforward attack. The latter number features a different set of musicians, including label head Joe Roesch on drums, while the other ten tracks include Murphy's nephew, Floyd Murphy, Jr. on drums (and rhythm guitar on two tracks) with horns and Pat Nigro's crisp keyboards. Murphy's playing is superlative, whether comping behind vocalist Eldridge, or (seemingly) nonchalantly tossing off a staggering guitar riff. About the only complaint might be the short playing time of just under 40 minutes, but you'll be hard pressed to find any wasted moments here.
The liner notes are a transciption of an interview by Joe Roesch with Murphy and takes us from his birth in Sunflower, Mississippi to getting the call from Memphis Slim. Just like the terrific music on this disc, the notes whet one's appetite for the next Matt Murphy disc. If it is anywhere as good as this it will be a must purchase." Ron Weinstock Jazz & Blues Report July/Aug 1996-Issue 213 (www.jazz-blues.com)
"Thank heavens Matt "Guitar" Murphy stays true... Remember, this is the guitar player who backed an early Wolf, Jr. Parker, Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson, and James Cotton...
The kickoff tune, "Ungrateful Woman," expertly ties Matt's blues and jazz chops. As at any Murphy live gig, he gently chides himself and his players before and during solos. Jim Biggins' tenor work flows smoothly above Pat Nigro's crisp piano. The build-up of intensity to Murphy's scorching solo flaunts the musical subtleties he has mastered. He enlists the unhsaven vocals of Howard Eldridge on the slick, Memphis-styled "I Can't Hang." The piercing single-note call and response with Eldridge is born of Murphy's years backing a stable of classic blues men...
When he needs to stretch out, Murphy jumps off with "Bip Bop," five minutes of foot-tappin‚ jazz. Everyone, including bassist Eric Udell, is given a solo on which to shine. Not at all unlike Murphy and the band live. Murphy's nephew, drummer Floyd Murphy, Jr., shares songwriting duties on the beautifully crafted ballad, "I Can Cry On My Own.
" The five pages of liner notes are transcriptions of Joe Roesch's interviews with Murphy about the early days through his Memphis work with Wolf, Jr. Parker, and Memphis Slim. Since so little is written about him, these first-person observations are indespensable--- as are these musical grooves from one of the true guitar innovators of American blues." Art Tipaldi Blues Revue Magazine Aug/Sept 1996 (www.bluesrevue.com)