Delbert McClinton & Glen Clark – Blind, Crippled & Crazy (review)

Delbert & Glen – Blind, Crippled & Crazy (New West) review

Getting old never sounded this good

Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark have teamed up again after a short, 40-year hiatus, for one of the finest roots rock albums of 2013, Blind, Crippled & Crazy (New West Records).  The record is full of self-deprecating humor – the kind that only comes from those who have lived a lot, and learned very little from it.

For over half the album, the duo paired up with songwriter Gary Nicholson, who has a knack for finding that unique angle into a song.  Take for example, “Peace in the Valley,” which is not the traditional gospel hymn, but a completely different composition.  In fact, the track bemoans the fact that it’s too peaceful around town since the girl left.

The disc kicks off with the Little Feat-infused piano boogie of “Been Around a Long Time.” Who says rock n’ roll is for the young?  When the two sing “age is just a state of mind” it’s believable because it’s obvious they’re having such a good time.  When McClinton sings “Oughta Know,” co written by longtime buddy Bruce Channel, it sounds like all the mistakes he’s talking about are coming from personal experience – a younger guy just couldn’t pull this off as well.

Clark gets a chance to shine on “World of Hurt,” a bubbling blend of Memphis soul, while McClinton nails the moody “If I Could Be Your Lover,” which has a hypnotic, Spanish feel to it.

What’s surprising is how positive most of the record is.  For as much living as these guys have done, they should be cynical as hell.  Yet “Sure Feels Good” and “Good as I Feel Today” both have a rosy outlook.

The album’s finest track is the hauntingly acoustic “More and More, Less and Less,” a poignant view of aging, which McClinton gives an honest delivery that’s sure to give chills.

Nicholson produced the record and it shows: no slick Nashville pop trash here, this is pure, unadulterated American music – a blend of rock, country, R&B and Western Swing.  And, so what if McClinton and Clark’s voices are a little raspy?  It only adds more credibility to the lyrics.

Delbert McClinton is one of the few, first-generation rockers who is still at the top of his game.  His teaming with Glen Clark has helped us re-connect with another fine singer in his own right.  If you dig gritty rock n’ roll, Blind, Crippled & Crazy needs to be on your radar.  –Tony Peters