Get Up is a straightforward blues album, but it's mostly high octane and showcases two guys in the prime of their musical careers. At 69, Musselwhite has long ago paid his dues, while Harper's talent is prodigious, as demonstrated in his genre-bending journey to date, from pop hits to his highly regarded work with the Blind Boys of Alabama. As a blues guitarist and vocalist he's very adept too, and sounds even better with Musselwhite's harmonica as a backdrop.
The approach varies, with the opener Don't Look Twice starting in a relaxed acoustic style with Harper trading tasty bottleneck licks with Musselwhite's harp, and then the band kicking in. The high-voiced vocal is eerily reminiscent of JB Lenoir. Tracks such as I'm in, I'm Out, I'm Gone, Don't Believe a Word You Say and Blood Side Out adopt a full-on, uncompromising aural assault. In between, the contrasts are We Can't End This Way, with a loping Bo Diddley beat, and All That Matters Now, which revisits the acoustic end of their spectrum as they borrow Elmore James's melody from It Hurts Me Too.
All up, this is a fine album varying between subtle acoustic songs and speaker-rattling, straight-up Chicago blues from the Southside. What started out sounding like four-star record quickly became a five.
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
Rating: 5 / 5