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Tinsley Ellis' recordings can be ordered here.

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TINSLEY ELLIS/FIRE IT UP (Alligator ALCD 4852)

Tinsley Ellis is a blues guitarist, with a rock edge. He’s released several excellent discs for Alligator Records over the past decade or so but always seems to remain just below the surface. His work is great and deserves much more attention than it’s gotten thus far. “Fire It Up” may just be the disc that finally breaks him because this is simply one of the best releases of 1997, blues or otherwise.

The disc begins with “Diggin’ My Own Grave”, a rough-edged tune that immediately lets you know where Tinsley Ellis, and his guitar, stand. It sets the tone for most of the disc, which contains several absolute killer songs. “Soulful” is quite possibly the best single blues track released this year, and this one track alone is actually worth the price of this disc. It not only shows off Tinsley’s guitar work but also establishes him as one of the great blues vocalists on the scene today. This track is absolutely smokin’! Other standout tracks include “Are You Sorry?”, “I Walk Alone”, “If That’s How He Loves You”, “ Look What You Done”, and “One Sunny Day.” The entire disc contains 12 songs, and there’s not a single throwaway track here. Every blues fan should have a copy of this one!

To Tinsley Ellis, thanks for one hell of an album. To Alligator Records, I’d love to hear a live version of “Soulful”, any chance for a live disc some time soon?