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Album Review: Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up

3 min read

If slide guitar coated, blues scented roots offerings tick all the relevant boxes for you then the new collaborative release from Ben Harper and veteran of Southern rock and harmonica extraordinaire Charlie Musselwhite might just be an album for you.

Get Up is a demanding joint venture for the pair who have both done their time in the industry and learned a thing or two about what makes for a successful collaboration and a successful collaborative effort is exactly what the duo have composed and offered to us with this record, penciled in for release on February 4th.

BenHarperGetUpWe are immediately reminded why these two musicians are so highly regarded within the industry with the albums opening track, Don’t Look Twice which sets the mood and places expectations fairly high for the rest of the record. Witty lyrics and memorable hooks form the backbone of this penning and offers Get Up a stable footing from the tracks first hook-laden chorus.

Musselwhite’s first reigning glory unfolds on the albums second track, I’m In I’m Out And I’m Gone which follows a simple instrumental pattern with the insertion of a charging harmonica fueled solo section filling in the tracks center with invigorating splendor, demanding the listeners attention and succeeding in its effort to capture the essence of traditional blues at its finest.

A raw gospel choir shines through the following We Can’t End This Way while a modest guitar picked nod steals the spotlight nearing the tracks end but it is the emotive vocals that are poured over the number atop the complimenting gospel choir that makes this one a highlight on ‘Get Up’.

From the opening lines of ‘I see your mouth moving, but there’s a circus coming out’ we are guided through some of the albums leading lyrical moments with the storming I Don’t Believe A Word You Say applying one the records most prominent fixtures to Get Up. It’s memorable, it’s engaging and it’s humorous storytelling rolled into a cohesive nugget of psychedelic rock.

Pulling the reigns of up-tempo back significantly, You Found Another Lover (I Lost Another Friend) casts an entirely different setting over the center of Get Up as we are presented with a charming, effortless ballad. As Harper’s vocals sway through a melody of gentle guitar strumming and Musselwhite’s influential and inspiring harmonica skills, the track provides a contrasting and stripped back filling to Get Up while the lyrics tell of a lost companion as Harper’s vocals unfurl a host of painful and emotive qualities.

Further down the record other standouts come in the form of the meaty 60’s inspired magic of Blood Side Out and the bass heavy title track. The latter, with its subtle bass line forming the tracks cool foundation and one that allows Harper’s distinctive and raspy vocals to really shine, sits on the record as its longest addition at just over 6 minutes long. Throughout its duration we get treated to Musselwhite’s effortless harmonica playing skills and an almost experimental patchwork of guitar solos, each finding a comfortable nesting place on the recording.

Now, the record may consist of a mere 10 tracks but less is certainly more with Get Up as each provides something truly special for the listener. Though the album slots easily into the blues genre, there are guest appearances from a whole host of others including roots, soul, southern rock, gospel and funk – all of which sit comfortably within Get Up and help form a consistent and fresh collaborative effort between two musical icons.

Buy ‘Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up’ from Amazon