Thursday, June 19, 2008

Antone's & Luther Tucker

5.0 out of 5 stars Luther Tucker's Sad Hours

This album is worthy of 4.5 stars. It was put together after Luther Tucker's death. He was a sadly under-recorded artist who was capable of composing, singing and playing original songs, such as his masterpiece, "War Boy". "Playboy" is an enjoyable song to which one can dance, and "Canadian Sunset" stands out because this is the first time I've heard this song being done by a Blues band. "Person to Person" is the only track on the album which I dislike.

5.0 out of 5 stars Documentary About Texas's #1 Blues Club

This dvd does a great job of showing us the passion of lifelong Blues fan, Clifford Antone. The real highlights are the footage of the tremendously talented and underrated Luther Tucker, whose talent is evident on songs such as "War Boy" and "Playboy". He was an excellent rhythm guitarist. There is also wonderful footage of Eddie Taylor, the backbone behind Jimmy Reed and all his great hits. Jimmy Reed was the the first crossover Rhythm & Blues Artist, except for perhaps Louis Jordan. It is a shame that this is the only available footage of Tucker and Taylor. It's also a pleasure to see Jimmy Rogers perform, and to see a young Stevie Ray Vaughan. Jimmie Vaughan's enthusiasm comes across loud and clear, but the real star of the documentary is Clifford Antone. The extras with Buddy Guy and Pintetop Perkins are a pleasant addition to this dvd.

A Blind Lemon & A Victim Of The Red Scare

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Originals

Blind Lemon Jefferson had fascinating, humorous, engaging lyrics, fluid, flamenco-like guitar playing, and high, emotive vocals. He was one of the original Bluesmen. Unfortunately, he recorded for Paramount Records, which was notorious for their records' horrendous sound quality. I feel that this album represents Jefferson's music in the best sound quality possible. The first half of the man's career was his most creative period. The originality of his music declined as the 1920s ended, but this is still fantastic music. Almost 100 hundred years later, there is still nobody alive who can successfully reproduce Blind Lemon Jefferson's guitar technique. If you're interested in other early Texas Bluesmen who were true poets, check out J.T. "Funny Papa" Smith and Texas Alexander.

5.0 out of 5 stars Elijah Wald & I Have Something To Add To The Johnson Legacy

What else can I add that hasn't already been said about Robert Johnson? Actually, there is a lot of information and observations that have long been ignored by the Blues community and magazines and newspapers like Rolling Stone and The New York Times. He was a lyrical and musical genius who, as Elijah Wald has pointed out in "Escaping the Delta", perfectly crafted his songs. In other words, his songs were intended to reach mass audiences and were not necessarily expressions of his torment as a black man living in Mississippi. At any rate, "Crossroads Blues", "Stones In My Passway", "Love In Vain" and "Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil" are masterful. There is one important thing to keep in mind, though. It is something that so-called Blues fans often forget. Johnson consciously imitated Kokomo Arnold, Son House, Scrapper Blackwell, Skip James, Leroy Carr, Peetie Wheatstraw and others. He was a synthesis of all that had come before him. Another artist he greatly admired was Lonnie Johnson, even going so far as to tell people that he was related to the man. "Malted Milk" and "Drunken Hearted Man" are closely related to Lonnie Johnson's style of playing during this period. Unfortunately, Johnson died at the age of twenty seven, and just as unfortunate is the fact that a man of equal brilliance, Johnny Shines, has never been given his due as a brilliant slide player, lyricist, and much better singer than Robert Johnson. People who say they love Robert Johnson's music and believe that he made a deal with the Devil should honestly look into Johnson's roots and realize that men like Willie McTell, Lonnie Johnson and Johnny Shines were just as talented as young Robert.

5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Live McDowell Album

This album is much better than McDowell's work at the Gaslight Cafe. His playing on this record is ferocious and his singing is excellent. The lyrics are of great meaning and reach way back to the very beginnings of the Blues. Unfortunately, the last track, "Kokomo Blues", is cut off at the end. Despite this minor setback, this album is deserving of five stars. The packaging is also very nice, and is complete with spelling and grammar errors that we've all come to find in Blues albums' liner notes. I urge everyone to pick up "Live at the Mayfair Hotel" or "London Calling", which is the same record. This is truly excellent music that I couldn't stop tapping my feet to. "Standing at The Burying Ground" is one of the greatest songs McDowell ever recorded, and perhaps one of the best of the Blues Revival period.

5.0 out of 5 stars More Than A Bluesman; A Great Human Being

Josh White was a wonderful human being who didn't see the world in terms of color or political ideologies. There were many chapters to his life. He was raised in a God-fearing, respectable home, took to leading blind Bluesmen across the south and collecting change for them, while being abused, became a Blues star in the 1930s, a darling of the folk scene in New York City, a man whose talent and humanity were rejected because of his supposed connection to Communism, and there is a great more to tell. Unfortunately, the left perceived him to be a sell-out, and the right kept hounding him about his supposed ties to Communist groups. He gladly answered their questions each time, because he had nothing to hide, but this made him seem like a traitor to the hardcore left wing community. In Europe, he was a superstar, performing in front of thousands, and a very dear friend of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. In the 1960s, it was very hard for him to find work in America, both because of the previous decade's scare over Communism and Josh's supposed softcore Blues, which many white Blues enthusiasts who supported the Blues Revival were not interested in. Josh was a man who always took care of his family, and although he had many affairs with women of all shapes, sizes, and races, he loved his wife dearly. I cried while reading the ending of this book. Any and every American should read this book cover to cover, and also own the Yazoo dvd of his performances, which is five-star material, in which every facet of this man's act is meticulously planned and pulled off magnificently. He is an unforgettable individual who paved the way for countless black entertainers of a much lower quality.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Some Po' Lightnin' & The Blind Reverend

5.0 out of 5 stars Unmatched Guitar Playing

This disc is full of unmatched guitar playing and ferocious vocals urging the listener to go to church and be redeemed. There is also a Blues song, "Cross And Evil Woman Blues", which sounds quite unlike all other Blues artists' repertoires. Though Gary Davis taught hundreds of students in the 1950s and 1960s, including Dave Van Ronk and Larry Johnson, he never played as well as he did on these seminal recordings.

5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars For Lightnin' Hopkins

There are a few songs on these discs that I don't like, because I feel Lightnin' was being a bit lazy, but let's face it; the bulk of this music is some primordial, powerful stuff. "Tim Moore's Farm" and "Unkind Blues" are dazzling. The last song that Lightnin' Hopkins performs on the Yazoo DVD which he shares with Roosevelt Sykes, which I believe we can call "Grandpa and Grandma Blues", though the title isn't given, is wonderfully improvised and similar to some of the music on this box set.

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Pre-Blues Memphis Music

Who can listen to "My Monday Woman" and truly not enjoy it? This disc is full of Pre-Blues gems, despite the sameness of the guitar playing on nearly every track. Jim Jackson has a warm and endearing voice and a large repertoire of songs. I recommend listening to this disc in conjunction with Document Records' Furry Lewis disc and some Frank Stokes, in order to get a good view of what Memphis must have been like in the first decade of the 20th century.

5.0 out of 5 stars King Of The Electric Slide Guitar

Earl Hooker was the king of the electric slide guitar. He was better than Robert Nighthawk, Muddy Waters and even Elmore James. He was an extremely versatile player. The two extended improvisations on this disc are quite excellent. My all-time favorite Hooker track, "Tanya", is not on this album. The classic "End of The Blues" isn't on this disc, either. Instead, we get some rare Hooker tracks. "Hooker 'N' Steve" is immense fun. It's a real shame that more people, especially guitar players, don't know who Earl Hooker is. Although he's on one of the American Folk Blues Festival discs, his performance is sloppy and uneventful. I really wish there were some footage of the man in his prime.

5.0 out of 5 stars A True Pioneer

This is the perfect box set. The liner notes are great, the packaging is fine, and the music contained on these discs is simply stunning. Lonnie's work with Texas Alexander doesn't sound like anything else committed to record. "Section Gang Blues" and "Levee Camp Moan" are startling in their intensity. His guitar duets with Eddie Lang will never lose their novelty, because they are music on the level of the Classical music of Europe. "Away Down in The Alley Blues" and "Hot Fingers" are mind-boggling. Lonnie's Blues lyrics are original and greatly detailed. He is the master of romantic balladry. He is a pioneer in Rhythm & Blues. He knows how to use double-entendre, and he certainly seems to have a true distrust of women!

5.0 out of 5 stars The Glorious Lonnie Johnson

Although some hardcore Blues fans may complain about songs like "Old Rocking Chair" and "My Mother's Eyes" being on this album, the fact is that Lonnie Johnson sounded phenomenal when he crooned. This just isn't the Lonnie album for the guitar nerd; that's all. The interview at the end of the disc about his entire family being musicians is fascinating. Also, despite people often listing his birth year as 1899, he was really born in 1889, according to more modern scholarship.

5.0 out of 5 stars Guitar Virtuoso

Lonnie Johnson is THE guitar virtuoso. He is the inventor of Jazz guitar, for God's sake! This album is made by the first three songs, which are exquisite. Johnson recorded in the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s, and sounded different in each decade. In my opinion, he was in his prime when backing Texas Alexander with those otherwordly guitar moans, and his guitar duets with Eddie Lang still sound fresh almost 100 years later. I've never heard guitar playing like there is on "The Risin' Sun". However, let's jump ahead three decades to this album that was made with Elmer Snowden. I highly suggest you purchase this disc, as Lonnie's guitar playing is beautifully romantic and his vocals are impeccable.

5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Blues From Jimmy Reed's Main Man

This is stellar Blues from Jimmy Reed's main man, Eddie Taylor. Taylor played guitar on all of Jimmy Reed's pop Blues records during the 1950s and 1960s. Jimmy Reed's guitar playing skills were non-existent. Eddie Taylor is also the man who taught the great Freddie King how to play guitar, who, in turn, became the primary inspiration for Eric Clapton's electric guitar playing, along with B.B. King. All of the songs on this disc are thoroughly enjoyable and the album is not plagued at all by the lousy vocals and lyrics Taylor put forth on the previously reviewed album of his on this blog. Footage of Eddie is available on the "Antone's: Home of The Blues" dvd, which is a great and cheap buy. On the dvd, Clifford Antone calls Eddie Taylor, "The Father of Rock 'N' Roll".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Even More Slash And Burn

5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatly Underappreciated Johnny Shines

Johnny Shines is a greatly underappreciated musical artist. His recordings from the '60s and '70s contain a variety of musical styles. Though he seems most comfortable playing acoustic Delta Blues, this disc contains amazing songs with tons of soul, such as "Just A Little Tenderness" and "Just Call Me." "My Love Can't Hide" resembles Otis Rush's "My Love Will Never Die", but Shines manages to put ten times more emotion and stark vocalization into the song (despite Rush's recording being excellent). This disc is a great mix of acoustic Delta Blues, electrified Chicago tunes, and Shines' successful attempt at the then-popular Soul music. Out of Standing At The Crossroads, Too Wet To Plow, Worried Blues Ain't Bad, and this record, his singing is at its earth-shaking best on this record. I look forward to purchasing Traditional Delta Blues and Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop. The only drawback to this disc is the unimpressive presentation of the liner notes.

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Cheap McDowell Album

Unlike his Mississippi Delta colleagues, Fred McDowell played in the Hill Country style. This basically means that his timing was eccentric, from a relative perspective, that his music was more closely related to what Lonnie Pitchford played on his diddley-bow, and that Fred's music was closer to what West African music sounds like. Fred possessed an excellent library of Blues lyrics in his head, he was one of the greatest slide players of all time, and his vocals, while not the most powerful, were always convincing. This is a great album to own.

4.0 out of 5 stars Can't Go Wrong With McDowell

This is a very good, live, albeit relaxed, McDowell album. I prefer his acoustic recordings to this disc. The song selection on these two discs is a bit more oriented towards newcomers to the Blues than it is to hardcore fans. For instance, we don't get songs like "I Worked Old Lu and I Worked Old Bess" on this disc. There is no bad Fred McDowell album, but I prefer his Arhoolie work to this disc. "Mercy" and "John Henry" are wonderful.

More Music Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Electric Blues

The reason I'm not giving this double cd a five star rating is because of the repetitive undercurrent throughout the disc. T-Bone Walker is a fantastic guitar player, though, in my opinion, not as good as Lonnie Johnson. Walker's vocals are solid and his lyrics are often very creative. This cd is very expensively priced, so you are probably better off trying to buy it used or obtain the tracks in some other way.

5.0 out of 5 stars Hank Williams Is A God

I have had this wonderful box set for less than a month, and I'm already beginning to wear out the 4 wonderful discs. For the amount of money it costs, this is the greatest box set ever assembled, and I'm sure of it. These 4 magnificent compact discs, cool cardboard case, and excellent booklet cost less than 25 dollars! Although the first cd starts off a bit weak, and the forth cd has some songs that aren't Hank's best, 90% of the songs in this collection are absolutely impeccable! Before I purchased this collection, I knew that Hank Williams was excellent, but I had no idea that he was a god. How on earth did such a simple and uneducated man write these lyrics?! Some of the poetry in these songs, especially on the depressing and melancholy tunes, is comparable to the work of all of Europe's greatest classical writers and poets. If you have the "40 Greatest Hits" cd, you should still buy this! This is because the demos at the end of disc three contain some of Hank's best lyrics, and these songs are not included on "40 Greatest Hits". There is more to Hank Williams than just his hits! He doesn't just have great party songs, he also has extremely dark and cryptic songs about death and misery, and glorious and heavenly spiritual tunes. In conclusion, Hank Williams belongs up there with Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Django Reinhardt, Bessie Smith, Louis Jordan etc. In other words, Hank too, was the blues; and he was a god!

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Early Leadbelly

This is an excellent Leadbelly cd, which features work songs, early blues, and African American folk songs. With it's heartbreaking lyrics and seemingly-ancient melody, "Goodnight Irene" is one of, if not the, greatest songs ever, and this cd contains the greatest recording of "Goodnight Irene" that's around. I'll go out on a limb and say that "Ham An' Eggs" and "Take This Hammer" have vocals which have more power than, perhaps, Muddy Water's guitar work on the electric "Still A Fool". Perhaps the only complaint one could make about this cd is that it doesn't feature a lot of Leadbelly's blues recordings, although in my mind, the man is better known for and better at folk and work songs. "Birmingham Jail" is excellent, as always. In conclusion, this is a four star cd that you should definitely pick up!

4.0 out of 5 stars Probably Not The Best Stokes CD, But Still Great

This is a four-star cd which features the music of Memphis bluesman Frank Stokes. Stokes was born on January 1, 1888, which makes him one of the oldest bluesmen to have recorded. He was an excellent guitarist who had a beautifully archaic and gentle tint to his vocals. The major drawbacks of this cd are the nearly horrendous sound quality on two or three of the songs at the end of the cd, and the three versions of "'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do" which become quite repetitive. Perhaps a better buy would have been Yazoo's Stokes disc, which doesn't have nearly as many songs on it, but does boast much better sound quality. In conclusion, Frank Stokes was an excellent exponent of the Memphis sound; second only to Furry Lewis.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom & Sadness Of The Ages

Simply put, this album contains the wisdom and sadness of the ages. This is easily one of the top 20 compact discs ever made. I have not heard Clarence "Tom" Ashley's stuff that he did with Doc Watson, but I know it can't be nearly as powerful and sorrowful, and, at times, gleeful, as this wonderful music. Like Dock Boggs, a man whose cd I previously reviewed, Ashley is white, but is able to not only play the blues with the best of them, but also feel it. And his feelings come across loud and clear on this album. His feelings transcend space and time. This isn't hype; Clarence "Tom" Ashley is indeed a legend of American folk music.

4.0 out of 5 stars Bo Weavil Stands Out

This album contains the complete recordings of Bo Weavil Jackson, which is reason enough to purchase this great cd. Not much is known about Bo Weavil. In fact, we don't even know his real name. However, he produced some of the greatest acoustic country blues that I've ever heard. Eleven out of the thirteen of his complete recordings range from great to masterpiece. Only "...Kingdom Land" and "Why Do You Moan?" are average songs. Bobby Grant's "Nappy Head Blues" is an essential piece of pre-war blues music. Lane Hardin has a nice and clear voice, and some pretty guitar work. King Solomon Hill's second take of his "Whoopee Blues" is quite awesome. This is a 4 star cd that you should pick up!

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Original Bluesmen

Along with men like Frank Stokes, Charley Patton, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John Hurt and Cryin' Sam Collins, Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the original bluesmen. Although it's commonly thought that he was born in 1897, more recent research has suggested that he was born in 1893. During the years of his adolescence, the blues was first beginning to take shape. Songs like "Black Horse Blues," "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," "Matchbox Blues," "Corinna Blues," and "Rabbit Foot Blues" are all absolutely essential to anyone's blues collection, or to their general understanding of American music. Jefferson's strange and unconventional vocals controlled and dictated what he played on guitar. His guitar playing was highly influenced by the Flamenco playing of Mexican workers whom he lived near during his life. His lyrics are bright, original, often sarcastic and humorous, and great poetry. Unfortunately, both this disc and a Yazoo Blind Blake disc that I have, often skip when I play them. Better luck to others who purchase this Jefferson disc!

5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle And Timeless

Mississippi John Hurt possessed a gentle and timeless voice and guitar playing skill. His guitar work is considered to be some of the greatest, and most complicated, in all of American music, and his voice is immediately soothing to even the savage beast. Songs like "Frankie," "Ain't No Tellin'," and "Avalon Blues" will surely leave many students of guitar simply breathless. To those who do not play any musical instruments, his flowing guitar technique is still dazzling, and his voice is more "homey" and "likeable" than perhaps anyone else's, even the great Louis Armstrong's. As a darling of the Blues/Folk Revival of the 1960s, Hurt often played the Pre-War songs we hear on this disc, and almost just as well as he did back in the old days, one might add. This is a great disc for both the musician and the listener in us all.

5.0 out of 5 stars A True Poet Of The Blues

Blind Willie McTell was a true poet of the blues and also a master guitar player. Songs like "Statesboro Blues," "Writin' Paper Blues," "Ticket Agent Blues," "Talkin' To Myself," "Love Changin' Blues," "Lay Some Flowers On My Grave" and "Teasin' Brown" are all magnificent highlights of this 4 cd set. The only drawbacks are the lousy vocals of the female singers whom McTell backs on some of the tracks, and the extremely racist views that Lomax holds, and demonstrates on disc 4. Otherwise, this is a wonderful buy.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Brilliance Of Jimmie Tarlton

This is a wonderful box set which features the words, voices, and music of Tom Darby and Jimmie Tarlton. While Darby possessed some talent and mastered the rudiments of being an Old-Timey singer and musician, Jimmie Tarlton is the true star here. Tarlton is a brilliant, first-rate musician, who belongs up there with Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, Bessie Smith, Clarence Tom Ashley etc. Tarlton has a beautiful, soothing, dramatic, lovely, birdlike call of a voice, a strange yet intriguing style of guitar playing (which mixes Negro Blues playing and Hawaiian guitar stylings), and a knowledge of many songs in the Old-Timey, Blues and Folk traditions. Songs like "By The Old Oaken Bucket, Louise," "My Father Died A Drunkard," "Roy Dixon," "All Bound Down In Texas," and "Lowe Bonnie" are breathtaking. The entire box set is a must have, and there are no songs which leave you feeling unsatisfied. Also, Tarlton's work in the 1960s can be found on his "Steel Guitar Rag" cd, which finds him in excellent form, despite his advanced age. Simply indispensable!

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Figure

Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a fascinating figure, who in his 91 years on this earth managed to record more American folk songs, British ballads, Negro spirituals, breakdowns, reels, topical songs etc. than probably anyone else who ever lived. He was a jack-of-all-trades and a very educated man of a middle class background. On this particular album, "Old Stepstone" is the masterpiece, in my opinion. Its lyrics are simply breathtaking! Lunsford's greatest strength is not in singing or his banjo playing, but rather in his huge repertory of songs and the laid-back way in which he plays them. His vocals are also easier on the ears than those of a Dock Boggs or a Roscoe Holcomb. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the thousands of songs that the man recorded are not available on compact disc, and that's a tragedy. In conclusion, this is an excellent album of Old-Timey and American folk music which is very easy to listen to and is extremely rewarding and heartfelt.

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost As Solid As "Big Mama's Door"

This cd is excellent. It is almost flawless. It deserves 4.5 stars. It's also just a step or two below "Big Mama's Door", which was Hart's first release. The only real flaw on this cd is the song selection. Hart does Leadbelly's "Alberta", instead of doing the Mississippi Sheiks/Bo Carter version of the song, which happens to be a much more melodic and pretty tune. Also, Alvin plays "Devil Got My Woman", which has been done to death by everyone and their grandma. The cd also seems a bit short; there are twelve songs on this disc and you could probably fit fourteen or maybe even fifteen. Still, this cd marks a return to acoustic country blues for Hart. Buy this, you will not be disappointed!

5.0 out of 5 stars Master Of Words

Hank Williams is a true master of words. As one reviewer previously mentioned, no lyricist or poet ever used such simple English to express such complicated feelings. On top of Hank's lyrical brilliance, he was a vocal genius. In the same way that Muddy Waters almost "created" the intonations in the vocals of all modern blues singers, Hank "created" the intonations and pauses in the vocals of all modern country singers. Both men were masters of vocal subtlety.
As for these two cds, they are flawless. Sure, maybe your favorite Hank Williams song is missing, and there is one you're not crazy about in this collection. However, this is as perfect as a Hank cd can be. Hank Williams is probably one of the 10 greatest artists in the history of music; buy this cd now!

5.0 out of 5 stars Vicious And Uncompromising

This cd is simply vicious and uncompromising; in the same way as the music of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James etc. Dock Boggs plays his banjo in a bluesy fashion, as opposed to a purely old-timey (what would later become known as bluegrass) style. For me, the standout tracks on this magnificent piece of heartaching white blues and country, are "Country Blues," "Danville Girl," "Sammie, Where You Been So Long?," "Lost Love Blues" and "New Prisoner's Song." However, each track on this album deserves at least a 7 out of 10. Just from looking at the lyrics to this album on Long Time Coming, which is an excellent site on Dock Boggs, one can determine that this album is a real killer. The only complaint I have about this album is that I don't believe the lyrics are given to the last 4 tunes. Boggs has recorded material from the 1960's that is available, and while I haven't heard it yet, I can't imagine it being any more potent, striking, guttural, or visceral than these tracks. Five Stars.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ethereal

This is an excellent cd to purchase if you'd like to experience Darby & Tarlton, but don't want to pay 80 dollars for their 3 cd's which include their complete recordings. Songs like "Frankie Dean" (a version of "Frankie & Johnny"), "Lowe Bonnie" (in the "Henry Lee" family) and "On The Banks Of A Lonely River" are immortal testaments to American folk music. The guitar playing by both men is excellent, and the singing is better than that of just about any Old-Timey duo I can think of. If you like Grayson & Whitter, Burnett & Rutherford, or Frank Hutchison, buy this cd!

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Greatest Musicians Who Ever Lived

Jimmie Tarlton was one of the greatest musicians to have ever graced this earth. Although he was elderly when he made these recordings, they are excellent examples of his work, and demonstrate to us that old age did not remove any of his musical abilities. Originally part of a duo with the mediocre Tom Darby, with whom he cut some of the greatest records ever made, Jimmie Tarlton came up with his own style of music: he sang in a rather European-sounding tenor and falsetto, while playing Old-Timey music and Negro Blues on his guitar within the framework of Hawaiian guitar playing! There was, nor will there ever be, anyone quite like Jimmie Tarlton, whose songs like "John Henry," "Brown Eyes," "Put-Together Blues," "I'll Never Get Drunk Anymore," "Pretty Little Girl," and "Lowe Bonnie" really shine on this disc! Also, take a look at my reviews of other Tarlton cds.

4.0 out of 5 stars Nighthawk: Master Of The Slide

Robert Nighthawk is a true master of slide guitar. His slide playing is low-down, dark, emotive, and causes me to make all kinds of strange facial expressions. Nighthawk had a relaxed singing voice and a decent variety of blues lyrics, though his real strength was his killer guitar playing. However, the song "Mama, Talk To Your Daughter" keeps me from giving this album 5 stars. The singer, who is probably not J.B. Lenoir, doesn't have the greatest voice and sometimes forgets to sing directly into the microphone. The song is also very repetitive, and is better when it's kept to three minutes or so in length, like Lenoir or John Lee Hooker's versions of it. Don't get me wrong; this is an awesome album, and one of the top three greatest live blues albums of all-time. The thirteen minute interview is very enjoyable and revealing. Nighthawk seems like a quiet, reserved, humble man, and it's a shame that some of the slide playing he demonstrates in the interview didn't provoke him to disregard the interview altogether and play entire songs! One can definitely see where Muddy Waters' solo on his live version of "Streamline Woman" came from; Muddy borrowed it from Nighthawk. As another reviewer said, if you are interested in the California, studio-produced, obnoxious, crappy music that is an indication of the downfall of Western Civilization, avoid this album because you won't like it. If you are interested in authentic electric blues, forget about Vaughan, Clapton and Johnny Winter for now, and get to the heart of electric blues- Robert Nighthawk, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf.

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of Cash's Best

This is simply one of the best albums Cash has ever done. It is immediately touching, striking, frightening, and incredibly personal. It is almost as if Johnny Cash is your personal psychologist; how else could he know about all of the thoughts and feelings that exist in the bowels of your soul? This album is brilliant, and Cash didn't need to go to Rick Rubin to make this record. Cash desired to make a record that represented Americana, and that's exactly what this is. I think this is a better album than Springsteen's "Nebraska" or anything Dylan has done in a long, long time. Cash does his own version of the folk-blues song "Delia," calling it "Delia's Gone." Actually, Johnny's version has very little in common with the Blind Willie McTell version, except for the fact that the subject of the song is a woman named Delia who is brutally killed. "Why Me Lord" back to back with "Thirteen" makes you wonder whether Cash is on the side of God or Satan. The truly fascinating thing about this album is that the guitar playing is very simple and understated; Johnny was never an expert guitar player. This album is eclectic, moving, and so far it is my favorite Cash album besides "At Folsom Prison." I'm looking forward to listening to the three albums that came after this one.

5.0 out of 5 stars Cash Is Better Than Real Cash

Johnny Cash is better than receiving real cash; you know, dollar bills. This album is fantastic. I just got done listening to and reviewing the first album in the American Recordings series, and this one is even better than it, in my opinion. These songs are even darker, more romantic, and introspective than the songs on the first Rubin-produced album. "Before My Time" and "Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)" are enough to make any human being cry. This definitely isn't the Cash album to put on if you want to tap your feet and have a good time, though. This music is high art, and if you look close enough, you will find that it has the same sentiments that can be found in classic cinema or Eastern philosophy; there is an intangible beauty to all of them. The really funny part is that I don't enjoy Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Beck, and many of the other artists whose songs Cash covers in this series. If you are sitting alone one night, pondering your future or the meaning of life, put this cd on and let Johnny Cash work his magic.