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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | Five most-played "Roots Blues" albums

Cost of Living

STYLE Roadhouse country, rock 'n' roll, and blues.

WORLDVIEW "A ragtag congregation is / gathered at the bar, searching for salvation for / just an hour or two. / . . . They take the wine till closing time, / a fellowship of fools, / confessions heard, forgiveness given / from twelve o'clock till two. / It's midnight communion / down on Second Avenue."

OVERALL QUALITY Fool's wisdom gleaned from the school of hard knocks and shared with infectious good cheer.

Back to the Well

SYTLE Bluesy country, country blues, piety here, carnality there.

WORLDVIEW "Got to get back to the well, / drink that livin' water, / dive deep in myself / start feelin' like I oughta. / . . . Only way to quench my thirst / is start puttin' first things first. / It's gonna make me a better man."

OVERALL QUALITY Better electric slide guitar playing than singing, with writing that ranges from solid to sentimental.

Change in the Weather

SYTLE Back-alley soul for humid summer nights.

CAUTIONS Casual cursing, double entendres ("Feel Like I Do").

WORLDVIEW That one does not sound foolish singing the praises of marijuana in 2006 ("Lady Jane").

OVERALL QUALITY The generic lyrics, similar-sounding melodies, and relentless mid-tempos make many of these easy-grooving songs as hard to tell apart as Mr. Lindell's abundant tattoos make him hard to look at.

Hope and Desire

STYLE Bluesy covers of compositions by members of the rock 'n' soul elite.

WORLDVIEW "The Son of Man, he speaks of revelation, / and he's reaching out . . . his hand. / You know he has promised to bring us all salvation. / Come and join the magnificent sanctuary band."

OVERALL QUALITY An endearing mixture of sweetness and grit made possible in part by Bonnie Raitt's having spent the last 35 years perfecting a similar blend.


STYLE Broad, blues-based, jam-band excursions.

WORLDVIEW "I wish I could be like a bird in the sky. / How sweet it would be if I found I could fly."

OVERALL QUALITY Derek Trucks and company let it all hang out with an intensity that suggests these pieces were written with outdoor festivals in mind; their flower-power utopianism suggests the festival they had in mind was Woodstock '69.

In the spotlight

Delbert McClinton, who first hit the charts playing the harmonica on Bruce Channel's 1962 hit "Hey Baby," has gradually gone from being a journeyman's journeyman to being one of the few roots-rock diehards actually to improve upon hitting middle age. Now 65, he's not only more popular than ever (due in part to his appearances on Don Imus' Imus in the Morning show) but also making the best music of his career.

Cost of Living (New West) consists of 13 songs (12 of them McClinton originals) that find the Texas native reinvigorating once again his rounder-with-a-heart-of-gold persona. Like the best blues performers, he gives voice to characters who own up to their own foolishness without blaming others or succumbing to despair-characters, in other words, humble enough to laugh at themselves and therefore to remind others not to take themselves too seriously either. That Mr. McClinton's band is obviously having fun as well makes the point hard to miss.


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