Where the Blues rears its beautiful and ugly head.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
A Little Brother & A Desperate Man
The Union County Flash
This is the best album available from Trix Records. Songs like "Crow Jane", "John Henry" and "My Mother's Grave Will Be Found" are all very entertaining. The other tunes are good, but not great. More people should be aware of Johnson, as he was a good singer and very good guitar player. Other albums on Trix Records, such as those by Willie Trice and especially Pernell Charity, aren't nearly as good as this one. I believe all three of the aforementioned discs can be purchased at a very cheap price. If you are a serious collector, go for it (the Johnson disc)! If you're new to the world of Blues, Henry Johnson is not an essential artist to look for.
Decent Blues Disc By Willie Trice
This is a decent Blues disc from Willie Trice, with the following songs standing out: "I've Had Trouble", "New Careless Love Blues" and, especially, "Troublesome Mind", which has different guitar work than I've heard on any other Blues song. The problem with this album is that the rest of the songs just don't have the same quality as the three I just mentioned. If you are a serious collector who wants a cheap Blues cd, buy this one.
My Favorite Soundtrack
Without question, Alvin Youngblood Hart is the greatest living Bluesman. On this cd, he does many songs we're very familiar with, as well as "Busy Bootin'", an obscure, hilarious track by the great Kokomo Arnold, who is highly under-rated. The Carolina Chocolate Drops work great with Alvin, the Art Tatum track is a real treat, and the closing song is simply jaw-dropping. My only complaint is that Hart, or, apparently, Denzel Washington, chose such well-known Blues material, with the exception of "Busy Bootin'", and not material which hasn't been covered by many people. Also, we didn't need another version of Bukka White's "How Long Before I Can Change My Clothes?". In the end, this is an excellent disc, which accompanies a decent but not great film.
Thank God For Joe Bussard
Thank God for Joe Bussard, the grumpy, old, Blues, Jazz and Old-Timey music-loving collector, musician, and living representative of the aforementioned music. To make a great understatement, he's a man who certainly knows his music. He has over 25,000 78 records in his collection, with no particular way of organizing any of them, yet he knows where each one of them is! This is a wonderful dvd which gives us a glimpse into his life. At a time when nobody gave a damn about the Blues, Jazz and Old-Timey music, Joe went all around America collecting and buying these records. Sometimes he had to walk through streams or go through coal mines to get the records, but this didn't discourage him in the slightest. Because of him and his eccentricities, we all have access to this wonderful music; real American music, our music! My favorite part of the dvd is Joe visiting two old black men, after he gets a call from one of them, saying that they have some old records that might be of interest to Joe, and him playing the music of their particular heritage for them. They were previously unaware of black music from the 1920s and 30s, and you can see it on their faces that they are really loving this discovery that they're experiencing. I also love hearing Joe talk about how Jazz died in 1933 and how modern music, especially rap, is garbage. I most definitely recommend picking up this dvd. There are actually two different documentaries on the disc, plus a full performance by Son House and John Lee Hooker, respectively. I hope to meet Bussard some day. In many ways, I'm a lot like him, but he's done more for this music and this country than I'll ever be able to, and that's the truth.
The Greatest Blues-Rock Guitarist
Stevie Ray Vaughan was, without a doubt, the greatest Blues-Rock guitarist of all-time. However, I'd like to stress the term, "Blues Rock", and not "Blues". He was not a Bluesman. Being a Bluesman requires more than just playing Blues guitar licks very fast and accurately. On this album, his singing is solid, the music makes the listener move his/her feet, the guitar playing is frantic and a great deal of fun, and Vaughan simply comes across as having an original image and sound. The album is available for a very cheap price on Amazon.com, so you should definitely pick it up. This is Vaughan's best album. Although I detest him being considered to be "the best Bluesman", he was still a great musician and I would have loved to have seen him live in concert. His pre-mature death will remain one of the greatest tragedies in music history. "Pride And Joy", "Texas Flood" and "Rude Mood" are all excellent. Fenton Robinson also performed "Texas Flood" on his "Somebody Loan Me A Dime" album, and it sounds a great deal different than it does on this album.
Barbecue Bob; What A Name!
This is an excellent album, which features, what is in my opinion, Barbecue Bob's masterpiece, "Goin' Up The Country". On this track, his guitar playing is crisp and emotive, his singing is solid, and the lyrics are very vivid. "Chocolate To The Bone" and "Barbecue Blues" are also classics. Bob likes to walk into houses "just to see these black men frown". Unfortunately, Bob died at a very young age. However, all three of his Document discs are worth picking up, as the quality of his work did not diminish at all towards the end of his short life. "Mississippi Heavy Water Blues" was later covered by the great Old-Timey musician, Roscoe Holcomb.
The King Of The Memphis Blues
Sure, Furry Lewis is a contender to his throne, but Frank Stokes is the king of the Memphis Blues. On this album, "You Shall" and "It's A Good Thing" are my favorite tracks. Dan Sane's guitar playing works very well with Frank Stokes' playing and gorgeous singing. The man had one of the best voices in all of Blues. B.B. King, Freddie King, Son House, Johnny Shines, Bessie Smith, Frank Stokes, and Richard "Rabbit" Brown are probably the greatest singers that the genre ever had. The sound quality on this disc is poor compared to Stokes' Victor recordings, but it really doesn't matter much, as the music is so much fun.
Good Morning Judge
"Good Morning Judge" is not only one of the best tracks Furry Lewis ever recorded, but one of the best recordings of the Country Blues revival. "Farewell, I'm Growing Old" is a touching, beautiful work, and Furry only fails on "Old Hobo", his version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Waiting For A Train", simply because, at Furry's age, he was not able to yodel very well. This is an extremely enjoyable cd, especially considering how it was produced by the Fat Possum Record company, which rarely produces anything even remotely related to Blues. Fans of this disc should also check out the Fred McDowell and Joe Callicott releases from the George Mitchell collection. Furry's take on Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" is also noteworthy.
I am a rather eclectic human being. I enjoy classic foreign films and studying East Asian religions.
My life changed after listening to Led Zeppelin's BBC Sessions cd and going out and buying "Sleepy" John Estes and Muddy Waters records.