Andrew "Smokey" Hogg- Deep Ellum Rambler
"This comprehensive retrospective of Hogg's 1947-1951 work for Modern Records gathers 27 tracks, including the Top Ten R&B hits "Little School Girl" (a Sonny Boy Williamson composition) and "Long Tall Mama," as well as ten previously unissued cuts. If only in hindsight, Hogg at this juncture can be seen to be a link between rural blues and citified R&B, using some accompanying musicians and some electric guitar, but not always going whole-hog into a full-band sound. His phrasing, too, is still grounded in country-blues, but pushed toward more modern forms by some heavily rhythmic backing and barrelhouse piano. It's on the ragged side (pleasantly so) as just-post-World War II blues-cum-R&B goes, the arrangements sometimes giving the impression of being crafted on the spot, though Hogg's vocals are relaxed and authoritative. Sometimes it feels like a link between a Texas bluesman like Lightnin' Hopkins and the West Coast R&B of the late '40s and early '50s; the Modern label, of course, was at the forefront of the Western R&B/blues crossover mix. It's rather similar-sounding in one dose, as most single-artist compilations of material from this time on the Modern label are. Yet it's not as homogenous as some such anthologies are, in large degree because of Hogg's likable vocal persona. Almost everything was written by Hogg except, oddly enough, those two big hits, "Little School Girl" and "Long Tall Mama.""
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