The Stephen Barry Band of Montreal vies with Downchild for the title of longest-serving blues band, they’re celebrating their 40th this year with a new album and a tour. In fact, as the Back Door Band, they go back to 1968. An original member, guitarist Jörn Reissner, was coaxed out of retirement for the event and his “Sister Francis” is one of the highlights on a disc that doesn’t have as much blues as you might expect. The lineup here also includes current & longtime members Andrew Cowan on guitar & vocals, Gordon Adamson on drums & vocals, Martin Boodman on harp & vocals and Jody Golick on sax with Stephen Barry on bass & vocals.

They start the celebration with a fine rocking treatment of the Roy Head song. “Gimme a Stone” is a pop tune with a gorgeous folk-like melody. The break features an attractive harp/sax unison solo. “Higher Ground” is the Stevie Wonder song that uses the “Help Me” tune to great effect as the narrator is going to keep on trying to get there.

Willie Dixon’s “Long As I Have You” and “Little Red Rooster” get languid but effective arrangements. “Big Boys Cry” is another little-covered R&B tune, sung very well by bassist Barry. “Sister Francis” has that harp/sax thing happening again on another attractive tune, asking for her help in these trying times. There are only Quebec dates so far for the Anniversary Tour but at least the CD is available here and it is at iTunes.