Rory Block – Angel Of Mercy (1994)

FrontCover1Aurora “Rory” Block (born November 6, 1949, Princeton, New Jersey, United States) is an American blues guitarist and singer, a notable exponent of the country blues style.

Aurora 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 influence of the Greenwich Village folk music scene, such as Peter Rowan, Maria Muldaur, and John Sebastian, tempted Block to study classical guitar. At the age of 14, she met guitarist Stefan Grossman, who introduced her to the music of Mississippi Delta blues guitarists. Block began 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, such as “Terraplane Blues” and “Come on in My Kitchen”.


Block has won five W. C. Handy Awards, two for “Traditional Blues Female Artist” (1997, 1998) and three for “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” (1996, 1999, 2007). She also won NAIRD awards for “Best Adult Contemporary Album of the Year” in 1994 for Angel of Mercy and again in 1997 for Tornado.

Angel of Mercy, Turning Point, and Tornado included mostly original compositions. However, Mama’s Blues, Ain’t I a Woman and When a Woman Gets the Blues featured songs written by Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Lottie Beaman, and Mattie Delaney.

In 2010, Block released her autobiography in .pdf format and a limited print run titled When A Woman Gets The Blues. (by wikipedia)


Block moves completely away from the blues form on this release, doing original pieces that evoke the familiar themes of alienation, anguish and romantic conflicts, but in a production climate geared more toward folk and singer/songwriter arrangements than 12-bar settings. She still plays excellent guitar solos and accompaniment, but her vocals are now powerful or mournful, questioning or declarative, and she’s unconcerned with trying to capture the quality of someone else’s compositions. The disc’s final selection, the nine-minute-plus “A Father and Two Sons,” reworks the biblical Prodigal son tale with a contemporary focus, featuring wonderful vocal interaction between Block and her son Jordan. This album showcases Rory Block’s own sound and vision and deserves widespread praise and attention. (by Ron Wynn)


Rory Bach (guitar, vocals)
Richard Bell (keyboards)
Rory Block (vocals, guitar)
Larry Chaney (guitar)
John Gardner (drums)
Dave Pomeroy (bass)
Sam Bacco (percussion)
Ron Bach (synthesizer)
Warren Bernhardt (piano)
Johnathan Biebisheimer (programming)
Brendan Croker (slide-guitar)
Dan Dugmore (pedal steel guitar)
Larry Knechtel (piano)
Rob Leon (bass)
Jerry Marotta (drums)
Vinnie Martucci (clavinet, horn)
Jeff Mironov (guitar)
Michael Mugrage (guitar)
John Sebastian (harmonica)
Jordan Block Valdina (vocals on 09.)
Neal Wilkinson (drums)
background vocals:
Amy Fraden – James Kasanof – Paul Block


01. Angel Of Mercy (Block) 4.30
02. It Ain’t Right (Block) 3.33
03. I’ll Be Gone (Block) 4.28
04. Who Was Calling (Block) 4.15
05. Somebody’s Baby (Block) 4,28
06. Big Bad Agent Man (Block) 3.20
07. You Deserve The Best (Martin) 3.38
08. Love Without The Heart (Block) 5.22
09. A Father and Two Sons (Block) 9.13