CD Review: Delbert & Glen – Blind, Crippled and Crazy (New West, 2013)
Two Texas roots legends rekindle their funky-blue partnership
Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark are long time musical compadres who also happen to be Texas roots music legends. The duo recorded a pair of albums as Delbert & Glen in the early ’70s, but as their individual careers took off (McClinton as a recording artist and performer, Clark primarily as a songwriter), additional collaborations became a topic of discussion rather than a studio reality. Having rolled around the idea of a new project for more than a decade, the pieces finally came together, with McClinton’s songwriting partner Gary Nicholson helping to craft this album’s original material.
The ease with which these master musicians rekindle their rapport is nearly as breathtaking as the music that their collaboration has produced. Both players wear their maturity well, with the raspy edges of their voices adding authority to songs that retain a rye attitude. Don’t expect apologies for their seasoned points-of-view; as they sing on the album’s opener, they’re not old, they’ve just been around a long time. The experience of those years fuels both their performing and songwriting, though as they sing in “Whoever Said it Was Easy,” even the wisdom of age is powerless to unknot the eternal mysteries of relationships.
The album’s mix of blues, R&B and funk reaches back to the duo’s earlier recordings, with a vibe that’s warm and comfortable. The band slips effortlessly into the deep musical grooves, as if they’re playing the second set for an appreciative weeknight crowd. McLinton adds tasty harmonica solos on “More and More, Less and Less” and the slinky “Sure Feels Good,” and the pianos (courtesy of Bruce Katz and Kevin McKendree) add New Orleans roll on “Been Around a Long Time,” “Oughta Know” and “Good as I Feel Today.” Whether or not they’re actually blind, crippled or crazy (or lonesome, on’ry and mean, for that matter), McClinton and Glen are certainly wise, talented and in each other’s pocket.