Music » CD Reviews

Popa Chubby

Big Man Big Guitar (Blind Pig)

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Most guitar players would put a song like "Hey Joe" at least midway through their concert set. A well-traveled tune like this, with its built-in peaks and valleys, is a natural highlight. But for Popa Chubby, "Hey Joe" just kicks things off on his new live disc. It takes an axeman with no apparent identity crisis to stand up to such a classic tune -- see Stevie Ray's take on "Little Wing"-- and Chubby aces this test.

Easily one of the best white soul singers -- and a savvy songsmith to boot -- this economy-sized New Yorker can flat-out play. On Big Man Big Guitar he has ample room to showcase his chops. Multiple guitar choruses abound on this composite set, taken from two sessions done for Radio France. The mostly uptempo songlist showcases Chubby's best studio fare of late, including his hometown 9-11 nightmare "Somebody Let the Devil Out" and the primo soul burner "Time Is Killing Me." The surprise of the set is a rousing run at Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Chubby's catalogue was about due for something live, and this disc fills the bill quite nicely.

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