Q - Recommended - "...as joyfully loose and spontaneous a blues session as anybody's cut for a decade and a half..."
Living Blues (p.57) - "The album went on to earn a Grammy, and for fans of hard-driving, funky, thick molasses guitar jams, well, this is your record."
Living Blues (9-10/95, pp.90-91) - "...SHOWDOWN! is one of the most successful collaborations in modern blues recording, bringing Collins together with two of his best-known proteges, Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray....the album features a selection of great songs, with plenty of room for state-of-the-art guitar virtuosity..."
Full performer name: Albert Collins/Robert Cray/Johnny Copeland.
Personnel includes: Albert Collins (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Robert Cray, Johnny Copeland (vocals, guitar); Allen Batts (organ); Johnny B. Gayden (bass); Casey Jones (drums).
Recorded at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, Illinois. Includes liner notes by Bruce Iglauer & Dick Shurman.
Personnel: Johnny Copeland (vocals, guitar); Albert Collins (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Robert Cray (vocals, guitar); Allen Batts (organ); Casey Jones (drums).
Audio Mixer: Justin Niebank.
Liner Note Authors: Dick Shurman; Bruce Iglauer.
Recording information: Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL.
Photographer: Paul Natkin.
This excellent 1985 Alligator release finds three guitar legends squaring off, cutting heads, and forming a brotherhood forged in blues. The elder statesman and leader here is the irrepressible Albert Collins, whose guitar sound and unique approach to the blues has been bending ears since the '50s. Johnny Copeland, the "Texas Twister," an early disciple and longtime friend of Collins, is also here, showing he's moved well beyond Collins's early tutelage. The youngest gun is Robert Cray, another musician Collins took under his wing (some 15 years after he first met Copeland).
Backed only by a bassist, drummer, and organist (the spare backing band helps put the guitar work at center stage), Collins, Copeland, and Cray go toe-to-toe on these tracks. What's especially intriguing is that each song gives equal air time to each musician, making room for solos all around and even, on some tracks, shared vocals. Copeland is the wildest here, with his wooly, rough-hewn voice and blistering leads, counterbalanced by Cray, who lends a laid-back air of sophistication to the proceedings. Collins brings it all together with his signature "icy" style. SHOWDOWN! is a dream come true for blues-guitar fans.