Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Three Kings

5.0 out of 5 stars Collection Of Treasures

This is a wonderful collection of treasures from B.B. King's lengthy career. Besides telling the man's life story, this book provides the reader with ticket stubs to B.B. concerts from fifty years ago, all sorts of crystal-clear photographs of B.B. and other Bluesmen, and other amazing treasures. I picked this up for ten dollars at a local mall, and I can't recommend it enough. It's truly moving and captivating to see how a young black man from Mississippi has become the international ambassador of the Blues and has won all sorts of awards from prestigious universities and institutions. This man is living the American Dream.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Multi-Talented Snooks Eaglin

Eaglin is a multi-talented artist. He can play Country Blues, New Orleans-style R&B, and even Rock 'N' Roll. On this disc, he plays straight-forward Country Blues. "Careless Love" is masterfully done, "High Society is nothing short of dazzling, and "Helping Hand" is an emotional experience. The liner notes are highly detailed and extensive. I highly recommend purchasing this cd. Snooks is still with us, but often plays electric Blues at small clubs and at festivals, as opposed to Country Blues music. I'd love to see him perform some day.

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Greatest Electric Blues Albums Of All-Time

This album and Earl Hooker's "The Moon Is Rising" are two of the greatest electric Blues albums of all-time. There is not a bad song on this disc. Albert King also displays great versatility; "Born Under A Bad Sign" sounds nothing like "The Very Thought Of You", perhaps an odd song choice for Albert, but very well-handled. This is one of the albums that the late Stevie Ray Vaughan most admired. He was heavily influenced by Albert's playing on this record, as were scores of other Blues guitarists and Blues-Rock performers.

5.0 out of 5 stars Pure B.B. King

Though I'm not a huge fan of the closing song, this is an amazing concert that is deserving of 5 stars. "Sweet Sixteen" alone is mind-bogglingly emotive, to the point of being irrational and out-of-control. It's a real treat to see a young B.B. perform in his prime. I saw him live in concert at Jones Beach in New York, on his 75th birthday. Buddy Guy and the great, young, immensely talented Corey Harris were also on the bill. I picked this dvd up in Itaewon, Korea, an area known for its non-Korean population. It cost me just five dollars. I highly suggest everyone check out this great, albeit short, concert.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Freddie King Album

This is a fantastic Freddie King album, with not a single dull track on the disc. "Look On Yonder Wall" and the often-covered "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" are great, despite the latter being done by everyone and their grandmother. I highly recommend picking up this disc, despite the expensive price. Perhaps it can be downloaded or a used copy can be purchased. This is essential electric Blues listening.

4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Of Its Reputation

This cd is worthy of its reputation, and is the last great recording by Eric Clapton. "Malted Milk", "Walkin' Blues", "Layla", which he was able to successfully alter to fit an acoustic setting, "Nobody Know You When You're Down & Out", the classic made famous by Bessie Smith and later covered by an aged Scrapper Blackwell, and "Tears In Heaven", are all exceptionally great tracks. "Hey Hey" is not one of Broonzy's better songs, so I'm not sure why Clapton chose to record it. "Old Love" is mediocre, but "Running On Faith" is wonderfully done. This disc would have been even better if Clapton would have performed the material solo, much like the legendary Bluesmen he so greatly admired used to do, day in and day out. However, he has admitted in interviews that he is not a good enough musician to do what his idols did. For those of you who doubt this, simply look up interviews with Eric Clapton done by Guitar Player magazine. This is also the reason that his tribute record to Robert Johnson was not done alone.

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine CD At A Very Cheap Price

This is a fine cd which is available at a very cheap price. However, the disc is missing essentials like "Wednesday Evening Blues", "Want Ad Blues" and "I Love You, Honey". Since Hooker simply recorded so much material, it's understandable that many songs would have to be missing from a single cd collection. If you're interested in John Lee Hooker's unique brand of Blues, which I'm still getting used to, due to his inability to rhyme or dislike for rhyming his lyrics, pick this disc up on Amazon for very little money. John Lee Hooker is the only Bluesman I know of who intentionally chooses to not rhyme his lyrics, making his songs have a unique feel, not to mention the fact that he has a deep, bass voice and a totally original approach to playing guitar. Even after ten years of listening to Blues music, I'm only beginning to appreciate his music, due to his eccentricities.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Atlantans & Voodoo Men

5.0 out of 5 stars Ferocious Intensity

This disc features the ferocious intensity and masterful singing, not to mention beautiful lyrics, of Son House. This material is different than both his original Paramount Recordings and his stuff from the 1960s. He is in great form on this record, and although the liner notes are skimpy and the cd looks like it could have been manufactured by a fourteen year old boy who downloads Country Blues all day (reminds me of me, just a decade or so ago!), the disc is not only well-worth owning, but is one of the greatest Country Blues cds that I can think of. Every song is excellent, and the driving intensity is relentless. This disc is strongly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Star Mance Lipscomb DVD

This dvd is deserving of 4.5 stars, as the song selection isn't quite as impressive as it is on the Mance/Lightnin' Hopkins Yazoo dvd. Also, one song, which is, I believe, "When The Saints Go Marching In", simply goes on for way too long. The audience looks like a mixture of stoned hippies, madmen and serious guitar players. I think I even saw the famous Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame in the audience. If you can get this dvd for a cheap price, please do so. However, as previously mentioned, you're probably better off with the Mance/Hopkins dvd. "Going Down Slow" and "So Different Blues" are the highlights of this dvd.

5.0 out of 5 stars An Older, But Still Wonderful, Blind Willie McTell

McTell may have lost quite a few steps since the 1920s and '30s by the time this music was recorded, but he was still in excellent form. The disc has a solid song selection and shows us that, had McTell have lived just a few more years, he could have been a huge star in the Country Blues revival. His twelve string guitar playing is exquisite. In my opinion, McTell and Gary Davis are the greatest twelve string guitarists in history; better than Leadbelly and Jesse Fuller. This disc and "Pig 'N' Whistle Red" are extremely enjoyable, but one should buy the JSP McTell box set first!

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Classic Rock DVD

As a Country Blues fan, I can't say that I'm the biggest Deep Purple fan in the world. However, I highly enjoy many Classic Rock acts, such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Deep Purple. This show finds them in excellent form. Ritchie's guitar playing is fantastic, Paice's drumming is frantic, Coverdale and Hughes both sing their hearts out, but, to me, the real star of the show is Lord, whose organ work is simply breathtaking. I bought this dvd at a subway station store in MyeongDong, Seoul, South Korea today, for three dollars, and am quite pleased with my purchase. This dvd is strongly recommended to anybody who enjoys '70s Classic Rock and great electric guitar work. "Mistreated" has a Bluesy undercurrent, thus it seems semi-appropriate for me to place this item's review on my Blues blog. It's easy to see how Ritchie inspired a certain '80s guitar playing "hero" who has an amazing amount of talent but can't write a good song to save his life!

5.0 out of 5 stars It Was In The Weary Hour Night

Songs like "It Was In The Weary Hour Night" (related to Blind Willie McTell and Curley Weaver's gorgeous "Wee Midnight Hours"), "Betty And Dupree" and "Every Day Seems Like Sunday" prove that Buddy Moss was one of the greatest acoustic Bluesmen to have ever lived. This material was recorded supposedly after his prime, however, in my opinion, his playing and singing is much better, and the variety of material is greater, on this disc than on his 1930s recordings. Buddy Moss is the only artist who recorded during the heyday of the Country Blues/"race record" industry who actually sounded better during the Country Blues revival than he did on his old 78 records. It took me a while to really appreciate this record. For some bizarre reason, I didn't enjoy it on first listen. A while later, I went back and listened to it, and truly appreciated it. At the time this record was recorded, Moss' contemporary, the great Blind Willie McTell, had passed away. Barbecue Bob had been dead for approximately thirty years. Therefore, in the 1960s, Moss was the representative of the Atlanta Blues scene of yesteryear. This is a fantastic record which I can't recommend enough. "How I Feel Today" is perhaps the darkest song on this record, in terms of mood, and is another stand-out performance.

5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Finest Solo Country Blues Releases

Along with Furry Lewis' "Shake 'Em On Down" and Buddy Moss' "Atlanta Blues Legend", this is one of the finest solo Country Blues albums of the Country Blues revival period. Every song on this album stands out, and Shines' lyrical abilities are dazzling. His voice can go from a whisper to a shout stronger than that of Howlin' Wolf in an instant. This record proves that Shines was as good as, if not better than, Robert Johnson, the now-famous musician with whom he often played and criss-crossed America.

4.0 out of 5 stars Pink Got His

Pink Anderson's "I Got Mine" and "Travelin' Man" are both fantastic. However, the rest of the material on this disc is not quite as great as the stuff on the first and third volumes of Anderson's recordings on the Bluesville label. That is the sole reason I'm giving this disc four stars, and not five. Pink's few recordings with Simmie Dooley from the heyday of Country Blues are fantastic, and one should definitely seek them out. Listen to Frank Stokes' "I Got Mine" and then Pink's version. They are quite different, but both are highly memorable.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Little Brother & A Desperate Man

3.0 out of 5 stars 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.

2.0 out of 5 stars 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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, 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.