Get this crazy baby off my head!


Rory Block

Rory Block - Last Fair Deal - 2003 - Telarc

"Like Jimi Hendrix’s air-raid rendition of “The StarSpangled Banner,” you won’t believe your ears." © Santa Monica Mirror

"Last real deal, more like it... she's got the funk... Pick, sister, pick." © Ink19

"this is the finest album of Rory Block's long career, and yet it feels like a signpost of things to come. Last Fair Deal is potent, profound, medicine." © All Music Guid

"...an arresting mix of sex and spirituality, sacred and profane. It has passion and intensity, along with excellent musicianship...a guilty pleasure." © Tuscaloosa News

"Playing with heart and soul non pareil, this is a must for the true contemporary blues fan." © Midwest Record Recap

"This has got to be one of the most eye opening CDs that I have gotten in many a year..." © BluzHarp.com

"...a stunning mix of covers and original material that taps the essence of Southern soul and pays homage to the masters of Delta blues." © Goldmine

A veteran blueswoman, Rory Block proves herself both a traditionalist and an explorer through this selection of blues classics, spiritual standards, and original material with a kindred spirit. She pays homage to her musical roots with impeccable renditions of songs associated with her late mentor Son House ("County Farm Blues") and his prize pupil Robert Johnson ("Last Fair Deal Gone Down," "Traveling Riverside Blues"). Yet she takes considerable liberties with the album's instrumental centerpiece, an all but unrecognizable version of the familiar "Amazing Grace," which here recalls Leo Kottke's aural adventurousness rather than the hymnal. The original "Declare" (inspired by the Bible's Book of Job) and the traditional "Hallelu, Hallelu" both find Block multi-tracking her vocals into the call-and-response of a full gospel choir, while "Cry Out Loud" and "Mama's Stray Baby" reflect the folkier strains of her artistry. An acoustic guitarist with a stinging slide and an understated virtuosity, she's more concerned with deep grooves than hot licks. © Don McLeese, © 1996-2009, Amazon.com

Rory Block, one of the world's great Delta blues revivalists, continues with her tradition of singing some of the great blues and gospel songs of yesteryear. She pays tributes to Charlie Patton, and Robert Johnson, and the album is dedicated to Son House, whom she knew in 1965. Rory sings with her usual heartfelt sincerity, and deep love of this kind of music. Her slide guitar work is as good as it gets. "Last Fair Deal" is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Check out her "Blues Walkin' Like A Man: A Tribute To Son House" album @ RBLOC/BWLAM/AT2SH Search this blog for other Rory Block releases, and if you want to hear an album of pure brilliance, buy Rory's "The Lady and Mr. Johnson," on which she pays tribute to the great blues legend, Robert Johnson.


1. Gone Again (Block) - 3:01
2. Sookie Sookie (Block) - 3:43
3. County Farm Blues (Son House) - 2:21
4. Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Robert Johnson) - 5:08
5. Declare (Block) - 3:56
6. Crying Out Loud (Block) - 5:12
7. Amazing Grace (Newton) - 2:53
8. Traveling Riverside Blues (Robert Johnson) - 3:02
9. Mama's Stray Baby (Block) - 6:02
10. Hallelu, Hallelu (Traditional) - 2:11
11. Two Places at a Table (Block) - 3:38
12. Awesome Love (Block) - 2:06
13. Look What the Lord Has Done (Traditional) - 3:08
14. Old Friends (Block) - 4:20


Rory Block - Guitar, Vocals
Rob Davis - Bass (Vocal)


"Youthful and beautiful, Aurora Block plants her flag on the summit of being the finest female traditional blues guitarist and singer. After 15-plus recordings, Ms. Block finally signs with a major label, one that allows her to play her repertoire - a collection of older country blues and her plaintive, introspective original compositions. Always present on her recordings are Robert Johnson pieces. On the title cut, Ms. Block illustrates her facile and informed slide guitar style, light years ahead of many of her contemporaries. Also showcased are her soulful, urgent vocals. These attributes are also evident on a brilliant "Traveling Riverside Blues." Ms. Block also represents Eddie "Son" House with his "County Farm Blues." But the blues is not all. "Declare" is a thoroughly modern acoustic gospel piece composed by Ms. Block and employing a small choir and the Book of Job. The same themes are addressed in the traditional "Hallelu, Hallelu" and "Look What the Lord has Done." She turns in an inspired "Amazing Grace," weaving the familiar refrain in and out of 100 years of blues instrumentals. Ms. Block is at her most sensual on the sardonic "Sookie Sookie," a tale of a cheating husband and a threadbare wife. Rory Block deserves all of the favorable attention she has received in the past number of years. She is a keen keeper of the flame, opting to perform traditional songs in a traditional manner. She does this in a way none of her male contemporaries can, from a woman's perspective - and what a perspective that is." © C. Michael Bailey, JazzReview.com

"... Rory Block has matured into a talented, tasteful country-blues interpreter with a fine appreciation for the roots of the music. Here she pays tribute to Son House, whom she met as a teenager, with a dazzling display of guitar wizardry that would make the master proud. While the 14 tunes include only one Son original, "County Farm Blues," the spirit of the great pre-war Delta blues guitarist seems to guide the entire project. The husky-voiced native New Yorker also covers two Robert Johnson songs, "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and "Traveling Riverside Blues." And her eight original numbers have a strong spiritual slant." © Jeff Johnson, Chicago Sun Times

"Last real deal, more like it. How Rory Block ever got so damn funky being born in Manhattan we'll never know (it probably helped that she hit the road in her teens to learn the blues) -- but however she got it, she's got the funk. Between her nimble, driving guitar and heartfelt voice she can move from "Son House (Country Farm Blues)" to "Amazing Grace" and sound compelling on both. In an age where blues artists either stick to one of two paths -- slavish recreations of old '78s or over-amped SRV cloning -- Block does neither. Instead, she uses delta blues as her vocabulary, but writes her own stories using the words of old. Last Fair Deal is an assured record that has the blues at its spiritual heart, created in equal measure of love and learning. Pick, sister, pick." © James Mann, Ink 19

Rory Block is one of just a handful of musicians trying to keep alive the splendid music of country blues -- the music that lives at the powerful and primitive beginnings of the blues itself. She's also one of the best, whether she's re-creating the tortured essence of a Son House song, or pouring her own soul into an original composition. This album, she says, is a celebration of her "best friend," her guitar, and dedicated to House. The title track here, though, is Block's interpretation of Robert Johnson's "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," in which she expands on her usual re-creation of the song, adding a little of Rory Block to the mix. Her tribute to House is his stark "County Farm Blues," about the grim life on a prison farm. Four of the tracks here are gospel numbers, including a ravishing instrumental improvisation of "Amazing Grace, and a haunting original, "Declare." Block's original work comprises the rest of the tracks: sensitive, personal, bluesy ballads. She uses extensive liner notes to tell what the songs mean to her, and how her own creations came about. It's a nice touch. Not that Block is shy about her personal life; her Web site at www.roryblock.com is filled with her thoughts and photos. That personal touch is just what the earliest bluesmen brought to their music. That nearly a century later Block is still exploring the nuances of the same music is a tribute to their art and to hers. © Jim White, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rory Block has a talent and understanding of fundamental country blues that go far beyond playing covers of her favorite blues musicians. She makes them her own while still celebrating their significance. On "Last Fair Deal," Block glides her way through a 14-song acoustic set with impressive clarity. Her debut on the Telarc label, "Last Fair Deal" comes off sounding like an exclamation, as if she's saying, "I'm here doing what I love. Accept it or not." She performs eight original tunes as well as covers of Son House and Robert Johnson, two great influences on her career. Her talent on the guitar shines mostly brightly on an instrumental version of "Amazing Grace," a powerful tune in its own right but taken to new heights on Block's acoustic guitar. Block ventures into gospel on a few tracks, but she is best received with the hard-driving country blues tunes. She doubles the length of Johnson's "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," making it a free-wheeling spirit rather than being limited by its own constraints. "Sookie Sookie" shows a playful side and features a full and robust acoustic sound. "Mama's Stray Baby," "Hallelu, Hallelu," and "Look What the Lord Has Done" feature Block at her best, vocally, musically and emotionally. She really gets it. Thankfully, she's willing to share. © Evansville Courier & Press

"New York-based Rory Block’s Last Fair Deal (her first CD for Telarc) has her signature slide guitar and blues covers. But she also takes “Amazing Grace” apart and stunningly reassembles it. Block’s acoustic re-imagining is helped by a weird tuning. Like Jimi Hendrix’s air-raid rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” you won’t believe your ears." © Tony Peyser, Santa Monica Mirror

"If anyone can bring the past of the Blues to us in a vibrant, moving way, it's Rory Block. She always manages to astound any listener. Whether it is at a Blues festival or just turning on a friend that is not yet a believer, Rory makes one's jaw drop. She told me she was self-taught, so she has done more work than anyone I know already. After learning the Robert Johnson songbook, which she plays better than I've ever heard, she has accomplished the daunting task of getting the attention of the entire Blues world. She is truly an extraordinary artist. Last Fair Deal is another great album from Rory. She has some Delta, some Robert Johnson (thank you), some Gospel, some very personal songs and some traditional tunes on this CD. If you love Rory Block, you won't be surprised and if you haven't heard her, you will get mighty interested real fast. I must say that there is real sense of the spiritual on this CD that Rory has decided to share. I hope that she continues to sing the Blues with such belief and that she continues to amaze the fans with her innate abilities. Rory Block has a lot to tell us and I am grateful for that, but I don't want to get depressed about the personal stuff. I think that it IS paramount that an artist expresses how they feel. I will say that by doing Gospel songs on this CD, she has opened a door for other artists. Thank you, Rory. She's trying to tell us something here that we need to think about. I, for one, get it. Her a cappella version of "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down," on her last album, was only the beginning. Here she does more Gospel, with "Declare," "Hallelu, Hallelu" and "Look What The Lord Has Done." The CD also has excellent liner notes about each song, direct from Rory. "County Farm Blues," by Eddie House, Jr., Robert Johnson's "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and his "Traveling Riverside Blues" completes the Delta tunes. These really show off the extent to which Block has learned the picking and the slide guitar of the Delta. She just keeps getting better, if that's possible. There are also some Folk-type tunes, or better, original songs by Rory on this CD. "Sookie, Sookie" tells of a hard times gal, while "Cry Out Loud" is a very old song that Rory found on an old cassette she had made, then forgotten about. She revives it just fine here. She finally writes about her favorite love, her dogs, with"Mama's Stray Baby." It had to happen-she loves her dogs like they were her children. This one's about Little Beaux. I'll let the other tunes speak to you when you acquire this great CD. Suffice it to say that Rory Block has another winner and another notch in her guitar for this CD." © Gary Miller, BluesWax.com

"Rory Block has long been one of the best, and most powerful, interpreters of traditional acoustic blues, and one of the finest contemporary songwriters rooted in the genre. On her strongest album in many years, she works solo and moves seamlessly from Delta classics like Robert Johnson’s Traveling Riverside Blues to moving original songs like Cry Out Loud, a tribute to selfless caregivers. Like many of her blues heroes, Block addresses both the Saturday night and Sunday morning sides of the music with several gospel numbers including Hallelu, Hallelu, in which her multi-tracked overdubbed voice effectively becomes a full choir. Whether she’s rattling the frets or tingling the spine with her slide, or picking out a subtle melody, Block’s guitar playing is superb throughout." © Mike Regenstreif, The Montreal Gazette

"As we officially recognize 2003 as the Year Of The Blues", veteran artist Rory Block has devoted an entire career, celebrating the deep roots and rich history this treasured genre. Her latest release, Last Fair Deal(Telarc 2003), is a true testament to the artists personal dedication keeping the traditional blues sound alive and vibrant for future generations. With distinctive collection of highly acclaimed recordings, this latest effort is her debut the Telarc label. Last Fair Deal, is a showcase of traditional country blues, gospel standards and personal arrangements, stretching Blocks creative boundaries. In the liner notes, she describes this new CD as a personal celebration her beloved instrument and best friend, her guitar. The growth of this relationship has developed into a true extension of the artist herself. Block refers her guitar as an "orchestra all on it’s own", a point successfully proven throughout the recording. Last Fair Deal is a brilliant piece of work, containing 14 songs highlighting artists passionate vocals, stinging slide technique and instinctual interpretation of genre’s origins. The opening track, Gone Again" is a hard driving, high energy tune, illustrating Block’s masterful guitar genius, even showing her playful side. It begins with the roar of a Harley, she punctuates a rhythmic response, keeping pace with the engine. As the bike trails off in the distance, her slide mirrors the open road, traveling across the fretboard while enjoying the ride. The following track, "Sookie Sookie" is a slower slide piece. This soulful blues tune tells the story of a cheating husband and the turmoil caused. The aggressive slide work expresses the overall anger and frustration, while she vocally conveys the painful heartache. Next, Block honors both her musical roots and long time mentor Son House with an authentic presentation of, "County Farm Blues". She embellishes upon the delta style with such natural ease, delivring a gutsy, acoustic performance. Her emphasis remains loyal to the traditional feel, surely making the master quite proud. Two tracks also pay tribute to Robert Johnson, "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and "Traveling Riverside Blues". Block rips into some raw, deliberate blues work. Plenty of hard driving rhythm and blistering slide, without overshadowing her distinctive vocal accents. All three tracks are pure passion and dazzling proficiency, an excellent display of this blues guitar virtuoso at her finest. Last Fair Deal, is a complete package, as the artist explores several areas of the blues genre. She ventures into a wealth of creative imagery on "Amazing Grace" and "Awesome Love", two instrumentals which sparkle with spontaneity. Each track shines with long tonal expressions, resonating inner beauty with intense emotion. Both these tracks sound improvised at times, yet very deliberate at others, as each carries a warm glow from start to finish. There’s also a spiritual presence on this new CD, as Block exercises her gospel muscle. On "Declare", both vocals and slide testify simultaneously, with Block sounding like a preacher at a Sunday morning service. The choir articulates a bright, uplifting sound with their "call and response" style, helping to drive home the message. "Look What The Lord Has Done", is another strong spiritual track with plenty of gospel and country blues overtones, celebrating the power of the Lord. Block also covers a more folk type blues on "Mama’ Stray Baby" and "Two Places At A Table". Both tracks are very introspective, as the artist shares on a very personal level. She reaches into the emotional well about love and loss almost too difficult to describe. Block opens the door just wide enough for the listener to feel her joy and sorrow, tenderness and heartache, told poignantly through the clarity of her voice and the strings of her guitar.Last Fair Deal is a wondrous blend of musical color, vivid as a rainbow after a thunderstorm. Each track, with it’s own unique style and sound, is blended together creating an amazing masterpiece. This new CD finds Block returning home to the blues, honoring it’s tradition and venturing into it’s future. The depth emotion and artistic creativity on this new recording will have both her fans and the folks at Telarc wanting for more. Block has definitely hit this one out of the park, most certainly an impressive example of what’s yet to come." © Pamela L. Dow, SoundWaves

BIO (Wikipedia)

Rory Block (born Aurora Block, November 6, 1949, Princeton, New Jersey) is an American female blues guitarist and singer, a notable exponent of the country blues style. Block was born in Princeton and grew up in Manhattan. Her father, Allan Block, ran a sandal shop in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and the constant presence of members of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, such as Peter Rowan, Geoff Muldaur and John Sebastian, made an impression on the young girl, who studied classical guitar. Around age 14, she began to be fascinated by old Mississippi Delta blues, listening to old albums, transcribing them, and learning to play the songs. At age 15, she left home to seek out the remaining blues giants, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis and Son House, and hone her craft in the traditional manner of blues musicians; then she traveled to Berkeley,California where she played in clubs and coffeehouses. After retiring temporarily to raise a family, Block returned to the music industry in the 1970s with middling success until signing with Rounder Records in 1981, who encouraged her to return to her love for the classical blues form. Since then she has carved out her own niche, releasing numerous critically acclaimed albums of original and traditional songs, including many Robert Johnson covers, including "Terraplane Blues" and "Come on in My Kitchen". Block has won five W. C. Handy Awards, two for "Traditional Blues Female Artist" (1997, 1998), three for "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year" (1996, 1999, 2007). Her many albums, such as Turning Point, Angel of Mercy and Tornado have featured her own songs, while Mama's Blues, Ain't I A Woman and When A Women Gets The Blues spend more time amongst her blues models like Tommy and Robert Johnson, and the blueswomen Lottie Beaman and Mattie Delaney. Block continued to tour, although not as heavily as in earlier times, and she's often accompanied by her grown son Jordan Block, who also plays on her albums. She remained busy in the early part of the 2000s, releasing six albums, including a live recording. 2005's From the Dust drew raving critical reviews, as did 2006's The Lady and Mr. Johnson.


Aurora "Rory" Block has staked her claim to be one of America's top acoustic blues women, an interpreter of the great Delta blues singers, a slide guitarist par excellence, and also a talented songwriter on her own account. Born and raised in Manhattan by a family that had bohemian leanings, she spent her formative years hanging out with musicians like Peter Rowan, John Sebastian, and Geoff Muldaur, who hung out in her father's sandal shop, before picking up the guitar at the age of ten. Her record debut came two years later, backing her father on The Elektra String Band Project, a concept album. She met guitarist Stefan Grossman, who, like her, was in love with the blues. The pair would often travel to the Bronx to visit Reverend Gary Davis, one of the greatest living bluesmen. At the tender age of 15 Block left home, hitting the road in true '60s fashion and traveling through the South, where she learned her blues trade at the feet of Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt, her greatest influence, before ending up in Berkeley. It was there that she developed her slide technique (she uses a socket wrench as her slide), but she didn't record until 1975, when she released I'm in Love (a compilation of earlier material, The Early Tapes 1975-1976, appeared later). After two records for Chrysalis, she recorded the instructional How to Play Blues Guitar for Grossman's Kicking Mule label, and later moved to then-fledgling Rounder, with whom she enjoyed an ongoing relationship. She toured constantly, often playing as many as 250 dates in a year, which kept her away from her family -- she'd married and begun having children in the early '70s -- but developed her reputation as a strong, vibrant live performer, and one of the best players of old country blues in America. In 1987 the best of Block's Rounder cuts were compiled on Best Blues & Originals, which, as it said, featured her interpretations of blues classics and some of her own material. Two of the tracks, released as singles in Belgium and Holland, became gold record hits. In addition to her regular albums, Block made a series of instructional records and videos, as well as a children's record, Color Me Wild. Although she had been performing for a long time, the plaudits didn't really begin until 1992, when she won a NAIRD Award for Ain't I a Woman, a feat repeated in 1994 and 1997. In 1996 she began winning W.C. Handy Awards, first for Best Traditional Album (When a Woman Gets the Blues), and in 1997 and 1998 for Best Traditional Blues Female Artist. In 1997 she was elected to the CAMA Hall of Fame, and in 1999 she received yet another Handy Award, for Best Acoustic Blues Album (Confessions of a Blues Singer). Block continued to tour, although not as heavily as in earlier times, and she's often accompanied by her grown son Jordan Block, who also plays on her albums. She remained busy in the early part of the 2000s, releasing six albums, including a live recording. 2005's From the Dust drew raving critical reviews, as did 2006's The Lady and Mr. Johnson, an album that sees Block taking on select songs of her musical hero, idol, and biggest influence, Robert Johnson. © Chris Nickson, All Music Guide


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

Anonymous said...

Rory Block! This is an exceptional album from an extraordinary artist. Thanks.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, muddyt. Rory is one of the great diamonds from the Blues mine. Thanks for comment. TTU soon