Sam Moss was a legend in Winston-Salem, N.C., – “our Guru of Groove, the Maharishi of Mojo,” as Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids put it – revered for his club performances and promotion of the blues. He was one of those guys whom everybody thought should make a record.
Turns out, Moss – who died in 2007 – did make a record. In 1977. It’s just been rediscovered, restored and is out as Blues Approved.
But don’t be fooled by the title. While Moss’ music has underpinnings of blues, there is much more. And though the LP can fairly be described as derivative, Moss derived from all the right sources.
“Rooster Blood” finds the sound of Donald Fagen’s the Nightfly even before Fagen did so. “Vida Blanche” rolls like the Stones with “Bitch”-y horns and ribald lyrics. Little Feat could’ve twisted the druggy “My Man Mike” into a Down on the Farm number. And the instrumental “Nightflight Over Berlin” screams Frank Zappa.
Rounded out with a handful of covers from separate sessions – including a lo-fi recording of a teenage Moss playing Buck Owens’ Act Naturally” in a church basement, plus takes on the Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” and the Stones’ “Who’s Driving Your Plane?” – Blues Approved is the sound of memories for those who were there and what could’ve beens for everyone else.