Michael Packer has been playing his brand of music for close to a half century. His newest album is one of the more unique releases of the year.
I Am The Blues is part spoken word autobiography and part music. He provides a number of very personal recollections of his life’s journey interspersed with musical tracks from different parts of his career. His stories of addiction, various bands, incarceration, love, meeting Bob Dylan, and alcoholism are raw and powerful.
His introduction is a song about his “Uncle Al,” who was a criminal, murderer, and probably a cannibal. Tracks from his early west coast band Papa Nebo are included. He was also a member of Free Beer, which was a band that almost made it. They released albums for the RCA and Buddah labels as well as opening for such acts as Quicksilver Messenger Service, Johnny Rivers, 10cc, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section among others.
The most effective tracks are the album closers “This Train” and “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” They are a bluesy celebration of the fact that he has survived his life’s journey but also the resignation of what lies ahead as the years pass.
The only problem is also the album’s greatest strength. It is really a book in album form. While it is mesmerizing the first time you encounter his stories; the question remains as to how often you want to hear them.
Michael Packer has issued one of the most personal albums of the year. He has bared his soul and it is a release worth exploring at least a couple of times.