Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King Unplugged – Close To The Bone is the latest release from these fine artists on their new label, Delta Groove Music, Inc. Formerly with Alligator Records, this duo should be familiar to even the casual blues listener. While growing up Irving, Texas, Smokin’ Joe Kubek played guitar with the likes of Freddie King and others, honing his craft to a fine edge. Bnois King, is from Monroe, Louisiana, which of course brings a whole other set of influences to the party. In addition, King does killer vocals that range from gritty growl to soulful mellow. These two artists together are a powerful force.
When listening to this album, note that Smokin’ Joe is on the left channel and Bnois King is on the right channel. This is not your mother’s run-of-the-mill acoustic album. For starters, the sound quality is excellent, with a great uncluttered mix that is crisp, warm, and clear. Then of course, there is the music. There are several standout tracks. “Poor Boy Blues” starts the party with a beautiful intro that eases into some fine intricate dueling guitar work. “My Best Friend”, a ballad with some excellent playing, also has a superb vocal. “Yankin’ My Chain” consists of only King and Kubek … it’s a boogie that moves and shakes in a very humble way … amazing acoustic work here friends.
Other high points include “Drowning In Red ink” which features Kubek doing some very fine slide work. “She Got Rid Of Me” has a great vocal, good lyrics, and some very sweet playing. “Jump The Moon” has King working the slide guitar again, and it is awesome. Kubek and King are backed by several guest players throughout, including four different harp players, three guitar players, one bass player, a piano player and two drummers. Again: The sound quality and the mix are excellent, allowing every single instrument to be heard distinctly. This is a killer album … right up there with Alone and Acoustic by Buddy Guy & Junior Wells. (Yes … It’s THAT good!)