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Alexis Korner: Testament

Album Notes

Personnel: Alexis Korner (vocals, guitar); Colin Hodgkinson (bass, background vocals).

Recorded at La Chapelle des Lombards, France in 1980.

He may have been the godfather of the British blues scene, but Alexis Korner's dirty little secret was that he loved all sorts of music, from Chicago blues and American gospel to British dancehall, jazz, and skiffle. Throughout the years, Korner incorporated a fair amount of his musical affections into his own unique style, but seldom is this more apparent than with the album Testament. Captured by a bootlegger's microphone with fair sound, this live album partially documents a sparse (but lively) 1980 performance by the duo of Korner and longtime foil, bassist Colin Hodgkinson at La Chapelle des Lombards in France. An early-'80s underground album circulated in France and Germany under the title White & Blue, the performance received semi-legit release on vinyl by Thunderbolt in 1985 and on CD in 2000 by Magnum Music. No matter the pedigree, Korner and Hodgkinson deliver an energetic selection of covers on Testament, ranging from classic blues like "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" and Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues" to carefully aged and raucous R&B hits such as "Hi-Heeled Sneakers." The highlight of Testament, however, is a seven-minute reading of the often-recorded traditional country gospel gem "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," offered by Korner with proper reverence and no small amount of blue-eyed soul. With a discography that spans some 40 years and offering dozens of quickly out of print releases on fly-by-night labels, it is increasingly difficult for the collector to put their finger on Korner. As such, Testament does a fine job of illustrating why Korner was such a stylistic influence on an entire generation of blues-obsessed British rockers. ~ Rev. Keith A. Gordon


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