LUST, BETRAYAL, heartache and revenge -- these are a few of Little Milton's favorite themes. On his latest release "Too Much Pain," the veteran blues singer and guitarist taps all those emotions time and again -- sometimes subtly, sometimes brutally, but never more memorably than when he sings "Your Wife Is Cheating on Us." Composed by R&B singer Denise LaSalle, it's a poetically just tale about a scorned soul who discovers that what he first thought was a love triangle could conceivably have more angles to it than a game of billiards.
Milton has also come up with a few other songs (and songwriters) that explore the emotional territory so familiar to him and his peers in refreshing ways. "The Cradle Is Robbin' Me" offers an unusual twist on a spring-autumn love affair, a predicament that emphasizes the brassy side of Milton's imposing baritone voice, as does the metaphor-rich "Runway," with its amusing slant of life in the romantic fast lane. On the darker side of the ledger, Milton brings the full weight of his soulful voice to bear on the album's title track and some lesser songs that are nevertheless redeemed by his eloquent and economical guitar playing and a punchy horn section.
Blues guitarist Lonnie Mack's new album "Live! -- Attack of the Killer V," doesn't deliver the same pleasures as listening to "Wham!" or "Memphis" or some of Mack's other early (and recently reissued) recordings, but it may be the next best thing to hearing him in concert these days. Most of the cuts are familiar, drawn from both his early recording days in Cincinnati and from album's he's made since re-emerging in the past few years. The impact Mack has had on Stevie Ray Vaughan and other players is unmistakable on "Satisfy Suzie" "Cincinnati Jail" and when he "chicken-picks" on his trademark Gibson Flying V guitar, but even more impressive than his long shadow is just how powerful, vital and convincing his voice and guitar remain.
LITTLE MILTON --
"Too Much Pain" (Malaco).
LONNIE MACK --
"Live! -- Attack Of The Killer V" (Alligator). Both appear Saturday with Carl Perkins, Solomon Burke, Beausoleil, Wayne Toups and several other acts at the Blue Bayou Festival at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro. Call 952-4740.