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Norton Buffalo

Norton Buffalo - King of the Highway

If you’re a fan of country harmonica, fast and furious, here’s an album for you. If you liked the Norton Buffalo/Roy Roger’s albums, then you’re going to like this one. Norton plays here with his long standing country blues backing group, the "Knockouts", but there’s more to this than straightforward blues ; the mix of funky, Mambo and jump make this a great sounding album. Special guests like the guitarists Steve Miller and Elvin Bishop add a touch more spice to the already rich mixture

Unlike the highly experimental nature of some of his previous recordings (dating from as far back as 1979) Norton looks here for a clear undistorted sound without any effects to highlight his own particular clarity of tone. Unfortunately the harmonica is at times stifled more than emphasised by the recording or the mix. Still, the choruses remain highly characteristic of Norton's style : energetic, fast and expressive. Norton is definetely one of the most influential of today’s harmonica players. He has helped to make the harmonica what it is today and has created dozens of admirers and imitators down the years. He has developed his own style, always recognisable but equally inimitable.

The only possible criticism I could make about this album would be the lack of variety in the role played by the harmonica ; the style is almost identical from one track to another, the only exception being a superb chromatic piece. In fact, this track shows once and for all that Norton is a genuine chromatic harmonica virtuoso, unlike the average diatonic player who rarely goes beyond 10% the chro's capacity when playing that instrument.

David Chalumeau

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