R.L. Burnside plays guitar like the world is coming to an end. His electric sounds follow in the boogie-drone style of John Lee Hooker and Fred McDowell, but take the blues over the edge with overdriven and feedback-laced, open-tuned guitar work.
Mr. Wizard is a fine showing of Burnside’s electric blues culled from a variety of sessions, including several tracks recorded live at Mississippi juke joints. He is at times sloppy, at times drunk, but amazingly, Burnside’s songs exude a down-and-dirty sweaty atmosphere no matter where you listen to them.
Acoustic Stories is another side of Burnside. Originally recorded in 1988, these all-acoustic cuts have R.L. playing stinging slide on a National metalbody, and boogie rhythms that don’t end. Listening to these cuts carries you back to a 1930s Delta juke joint. This is the real thing – Mississippi Delta Blues, circa the ’90s. Recommended.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’97 issue.