Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rare Gary Davis!

Reverend Gary Davis- Denver, Colorado, 1968

"In his prime of life, which is to say the late '20s, the Reverend Gary Davis was one of the two most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar; 35 years later, despite two decades spent playing on the streets of Harlem in New York, he was still one of the giants in his field, playing before thousands of people at a time, and an inspiration to dozens of modern guitarist/singers including Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, and Donovan; and Jorma Kaukonen, David Bromberg, and Ry Cooder, who studied with Davis.

Davis was partially blind at birth, and lost what little sight he had before he was an adult. He was self-taught on the guitar, beginning at age six, and by the time he was in his 20s he had one of the most advanced guitar techniques of anyone in blues; his only peers among ragtime-based players were Blind Arthur Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Blind Willie Johnson. Davis himself was a major influence on Blind Boy Fuller.

Davis' influences included gospel, marches, ragtime, jazz, and minstrel hokum, and he integrated them into a style that was his own. In 1911, when Davis was a still teenager, the family moved to Greenville, SC, and he fell under the influence of such local guitar virtuosi as Willie Walker, Sam Brooks, and Baby Brooks. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-'20s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. He was celebrated not only for the diversity of styles that his playing embraced, but also for his skills with the guitar, which were already virtually unmatched in the blues field.

Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the '30s with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an equitable agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again. During that period, he went through many changes. Like many other street buskers, Davis always interspersed gospel songs amid his blues and ragtime numbers, to make it harder for the police to interrupt him. He began taking the gospel material more seriously, and in 1937 he became an ordained minister. After that, he usually refused to perform any blues.

Davis moved to New York in the early '40s and began preaching and playing on street corners in Harlem. He recorded again at the end of the 1940s, with a pair of gospel songs, but it wasn't until the mid-'50s that a real following for his work began developing anew. His music, all of it now of a spiritual nature, began showing up on labels such as Stinson, Folkways, and Riverside, where he recorded seven songs in early 1956. Davis was "rediscovered" by the folk revival movement, and after some initial reticence, he agreed to perform as part of the budding folk music revival, appearing at the Newport Folk Festival, where his raspy voiced sung sermons; most notably his transcendent "Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way)" -- a song most closely associated with Blind Willie Johnson -- and "Twelve Gates to the City," which were highlights of the proceedings for several years. He also recorded a live album for the Vanguard label at one such concert, as well as appearing on several Newport live anthology collections. He was also the subject of two television documentaries, one in 1967 and one in 1970.

Davis became one of the most popular players on the folk revival and blues revival scenes, playing before large and enthusiastic audiences; most of the songs that he performed were spirituals, but they weren't that far removed from the blues that he'd recorded in the 1930s, and his guitar technique was intact. Davis' skills as a player, on the jumbo Gibson acoustic models that he favored, were undiminished, and he was a startling figure to hear, picking and strumming complicated rhythms and counter-melodies. Davis became a teacher during this period, and his students included some very prominent white guitar players, including David Bromberg and the Jefferson Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen (who later recorded Davis' "I'll Be Alright" on his acclaimed solo album Quah!).

The Reverend Gary Davis left behind a fairly large body of modern (i.e. post-World War II) recordings, well into the 1960s, taking the revival of his career in his stride as a way of carrying the message of the gospel to a new generation. He even recorded anew some of his blues and ragtime standards in the studio, for the benefit of his students."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/66321418e5f91dd3/

Monday, September 28, 2009

King Of The Slide

Earl Hooker- The Moon Is Rising

Album Review:
"The first eight tracks of this 79-minute compilation of late-'60s material originally appeared on Arhoolie's Hooker'n'Steve LP; a couple of others showed up on Arhoolie's His First & Last Recordings, while the four remaining cuts were previously unreleased. Hooker didn't have long to live when these were laid down in 1968 and (for the most part) 1969, but he's in real good form on guitar, although he only takes an occasional vocal (other band members help out on other tracks, and some are instrumental). Indications are from the liner notes that the sessions were run on a no-frills budget, but it's very respectable '60s Chicago electric blues with a shade of funky soul and a hot live feel, and Hooker's guitar has an upfront bite and presence. Actually, the instrumentals are highlights, particularly "Hooker N' Steve" with its smoking guitar-organ duets."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/66239543c8e4d185/

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lord Of The Hill Country

Mississippi Fred McDowell- Mississippi Fred McDowell

Album Review:
"Tracks drawn from a 1962 recording of McDowell playing in his Como, Mississippi house. The recordings were initially made purely as a document of a performer and a style, but eventually found their way to record and, finally, to compact disc. Somewhat raw, though the sound is actually very good, the recordings caught McDowell at his best, playing just for his own satisfaction."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/6615697687e4eb20/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jug Stompers

Cannon's Jug Stompers- Complete Works, 1927-1930

"Gus Cannon was the best known of all the jugband musicians and a seminal figure on the Memphis blues scene. His recollections have also provided us with much of our knowledge of the earliest days of the blues in the Mississippi Delta. Cannon led his Jug Stompers on banjo and jug in a historic series of dates for the Victor label in 1928-1930. The ensemble usually included a second banjoist or guitarist, one of whom often doubled on kazoo, and the legendary Noah Lewis on harmonica. The jug-band style enjoyed a revival during the folk boom of the '50s and '60s, resulting in an ultra-rare Gus Cannon album on Stax, of all labels, after his "Walk Right In" became the nation's best-selling record for the Rooftop Singers in 1963. Cannon's Victor output was also a favorite source of early blues material for the Grateful Dead."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/66080477a86b2db8/

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

String Band Music Of The Sheiks

Mississippi Sheiks- The Essential

"The Mississippi Sheiks were one of the most popular string bands of the late '20s and early '30s. Formed in Jackson around 1926, the band blended country and blues fiddle music -- both old-fashioned and risqué -- and included guitarist Walter Vinson and fiddler Lonnie Chatmon, with frequent appearances by guitarists Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon, who were also busy with their own solo careers. The musicians were the sons of Ezell Chatmon, uncle of Charlie Patton and leader of an area string band that was popular around the turn of the century. The Mississippi Sheiks (who took their name from the Rudolph Valentino movie The Sheik) began recording for Okeh in 1930 and had their first and biggest success with "Sitting on Top of the World," which was a crossover hit and multi-million seller. In fact, the song became a national standard and has been recorded by Howlin' Wolf, Ray Charles and many more. The Mississippi Sheiks' popularity peaked in the early '30s, and their final recording session happened in 1935 for the Bluebird label. By the end of their career, the prolific and influential string band had recorded well over 60 songs, including the successful "Stop and Listen.""

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65999487f30a920e/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Red's On Fire

Speckled Red- Complete Recorded Works 1929-1938

"Pianist Speckled Red (born Rufus Perryman) was born in Monroe, LA, but he made his reputation as part of the St. Louis and Memphis blues scenes of the '20s and '30s. Red was equally proficient in early jazz and boogie woogie -- his style is similar to Roosevelt Sykes and Little Brother Montgomery.

Speckled Red was born in Louisiana, but he was raised in Hampton, Georgia, where he learned how to play his church's organ. In his early teens, his family -- including his brother Willie Perryman, who is better-known as Piano Red -- moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout his childhood and adolescence he played piano and organ and by the time he was a teenager, he was playing house parties and juke joints. Red moved to Detroit in the mid-'20s and while he was there, he played various night clubs and parties. After a few years in Detroit, he moved back south to Memphis. In 1929, he cut his first recording sessions. One song from these sessions, "The Dirty Dozens," was released on Brunswick and became a hit in late 1929. He recorded a sequel, "The Dirty Dozens, No. 2," the following year, but it failed to become a hit.

After Red's second set of sessions failed to sell, the pianist spent the next few years without a contract -- he simply played local Memphis clubs. In 1938, he cut a few sides for Bluebird, but they were largely ignored.

In the early '40s, Speckled Red moved to St. Louis, where he played local clubs and bars for the next decade and a half. In 1954, he was rediscovered by a number of blues aficianados and record label owners. By 1956, he had recorded several songs for the Tone record label and began a tour of America and Europe. In 1960, he made some recordings for Folkways. By this time, Red's increasing age was causing him to cut back the number of concerts he gave. For the rest of the '60s, he only performed occasionally. Speckled Red died in 1973."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65944629628991e7/

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Speckled Red Is Dirty

Speckled Red- The Dirty Dozens

Album Review:
"If you have trouble keeping track of the "reds," Rufus G. Perryman was "Speckled Red," while William Lee Perryman was either "Piano Red" or "Doctor Feelgood." In addition, Speckled Red's style contained more rag and folk elements than "Piano Red"'s, as this set reveals. But both reds talked a lot trash, and Speckled Red had a lighter barrelhouse approach than his younger brother."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/658941204d866c95/

Pentatonic Musings

When people learn that my first love in life is Country Blues, they are either disappointed or don’t know what to make of this fact. This is not so much because they dislike rural, pre-World War II Blues music, but more because they do not actually know what the term “Country” indicates, and have never even heard Country Blues. In fact, on various Facebook quizzes that I have urged friends to take, many of my peers have made it quite clear that they believe Garth Brooks is a Country Blues artist, whereas, in reality, he is not Country Blues or even Country.

Although the 1960s saw a rebirth of interest in original Blues music, 2009 is not 1969, unfortunately. This means that many young people know nothing of the music which shaped America. Though many Country Blues stars were past their prime during the Folk-Blues Revival (examples: Son House, “Sleepy” John Estes, Lightnin’ Hopkins and certainly Bukka White), others were newly discovered artists who unleashed a fury of brilliant recordings. The men in the latter group include the extraordinary and otherworldly Robert Pete Williams, the aged but amazing Mance Lipscomb, and the last of the great Country Bluesmen, Johnny Shines.

By this point in time, Bukka White simply mumbled his lyrics, which almost never rhymed. His songs also went on forever in an aimless fashion. This is evident on all dvds on the GuitarVideos website which can be purchased at a good price. In contrast to this, Robert Pete Williams presented music which sounded nothing like anything that had been recorded in the 1920s or ‘30s. The sounds the man produced out of his guitar and his unusual voice were earth-shattering. It didn’t so much matter that his lyrics didn’t always rhyme; much like John Lee Hooker at his best, he could get away with doing such a thing.

During this point in time, we also had, of course, the phenomenal Mississippi Fred McDowell, the very best of the Hill Country Blues musicians. Lomax had recorded him doing “Shake ‘Em On Down”, accompanied by a kazoo player, in 1959. This was considered to be McDowell’s discovery.

Unfortunately, McDowell, Hopkins and others were often paired with younger artists and forced to work in group settings. This same situation also applied to Big Joe Williams. McDowell, Hopkins and Big Joe all worked best and sounded best when they worked solo. However, Johnny Shines was a man who was able to release great records in a band setting, either with Big Walter Horton or David Bromberg, as well as produce solo Country Blues records which were equal to, if not better than, the work of the overrated Robert Johnson.

In fact, in the African-American community, Johnson never had much of a following. His main contributions to Blues, as indicated by today’s Blues historians and not those of yesteryear, was the walking bass line which he had borrowed from Johnnie Temple, who took this technique from Boogie Woogie piano players and Leroy Carr. Johnson was also able to synthesize the music of Scrapper Blackwell, Skip James, Peetie Wheatstraw, Son House and Kokomo Arnold quite excellently. However, his vocals could not match those of House, nor could his slide playing ever equal that of Kokomo Arnold. Finally, we have young Robert’s conscious decision to use the last name, “Johnson”, and tell everyone that he was related to the older musician Lonnie Johnson, who recorded from the 1920s until his death forty years later.

Lonnie crafted countless Blues lyrics, was at home with playing Jazz with Eddie Lang or Elmer Snowden, crooned with the best of them in the 1950s and ‘60s, and came up with some of the most complex and awe-inspiring riffs when recording with Texas Alexander. Unfortunately, because Lonnie Johnson was not associated with the Devil and because he didn’t die young, the Blues audience of the 1960s took little interest in the man who literally invented Jazz guitar.

To refer back to Robert Johnson, due to the fact that he was the first Country Blues artist to have an LP exclusively devoted to one person, and because of the obsessive love which Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and others had towards Johnson, he is recognized today as the greatest of all Blues artists, which is a shame. He was certainly an excellent artist who created compelling lyrics and was a master of the slide guitar, but he did not equal Skip James, “Hacksaw” Harney, Bill Williams, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson or Bo Weavil Jackson on guitar! To look at Johnson’s music fairly, we must forget all about him for a year or two, abandon any thoughts about the legends surrounding him, and then listen to him as if hearing him for the first time. This will allows us to fairly assess his music, though this is a very difficult task.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Babe Stovall, The Old Ace

Babe Stovall- The Old Ace: Mississippi Blues & Religious Songs

Album Review:
"The late Babe Stovall, who died in 1974, was one of music's colorful characters, an excellent and adaptable blues guitarist who could move from Delta blues to folk to gospel. With some stunning picking, he was a New Orleans fixture. Indeed, he was the Mr. Bojangles of the Jerry Jeff Walker song. This album, recorded live in the Crescent City in 1968, gives a good indication of his talents. He could be wonderfully soulful, as on "Big Road Blues," but also quite playful, as his ragtime version of "Candy Man" proves. As the booklet reveals, he was obviously a showman -- playing guitar behind his head, for example. But he also offered plenty of more sacred material, like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and "The Ship Is at the Landing." This is a great historical document, made even more valuable by the inclusion of interviews with Stovall, who reminisces about the past, his family, and his career."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/658374172a338b3a/

Robert Pete Williams Is Free Again

Robert Pete Williams- Free Again

Album Review:
"In 1959, blues singer/guitarist Robert Pete Williams was residing in Angola Prison, serving a life sentence for a murder he claimed he committed in self-defense, when he was discovered by blues researchers Harry Oster and Richard Allen. Immediately struck by the power of Williams' blues, the pair commenced the recordings that would appear on the collections Robert Pete Williams, Vol. 1 & 2 (including the stunning "Prisoner's Talking Blues"). Subsequent efforts by Oster and Allen led to Williams' release. No longer surrounded by the bars of Angola, the singer found himself trapped instead by the strict rules and regulations of his harsh parole. Thus on Free Again, the singer walks the streets like a stranger with death on his mind. "You know I walk along and talk to myself," he declares in "Death Blues," remembering his confinement. "Sometimes I have a mind to leave this place/But they say, you know you're doing time." In "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere," Williams finds himself alone on the streets of a "one horse town." Settling down for the night, he sings with a "tombstone for my pillow and the fairground for my bed." Sitting on the roadside in "Thumbing a Ride," he finds that the cars just pass him by as if he didn't exist. Despite the constant, restless movement of Williams' guitar lines, these recordings have a stillness to them, as if the reverberation of his blunt, heavy attack might be the only sound for miles around. Intimately recorded by Oster himself, these ten solo guitar and vocal performances represent some of the finest of Williams' career and some of the best the blues has to offer."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65785791db6bdf17/

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hello, Korean Blues Fans

안녕하세요. 저는 Hard Luck Child이에요. 요즘 전 한국에 살아요. 많은 한국인 제 블루스 블로그를 읽다고 깨달았어요. 블루스를 좋아하면 저한테 이메에을 보내 주면 돼요. 제 이메일 주소는 Doctorpep1@Hotmail.com.

다니엘 올림

Pink Anderson Sings Ballads & Folk Songs

Pink Anderson- Ballad & Folksinger, Vol. 3

Album Review:
"This release contains what is sadly the final volume in Bluesville's trilogy of long-players featuring the highly original Piedmont blues of Pink Anderson. As with the two previous discs, Ballad & Folk Singer was recorded in 1961. It is also notable that Anderson returns to his native South Carolina to document this set. The second installment -- Medicine Show Man -- had been compiled from a New York City session held earlier the same year. Astute listeners will note that three of the titles -- "The Titanic," "John Henry," and "The Wreck of the Old 97" -- were duplicated from Anderson's side-long contribution to Gospel, Blues & Street Songs. The other side featured another Piedmont native, Rev. Gary Davis. However Anderson's delivery is notably different when comparing the two performances. One of the primary discrepancies lies in the pacing. Here, the readings are more definite and seemingly less rushed. The same is true for the phrasing of Anderson's vocals, most notably on "John Henry." The intricate and somewhat advanced guitar-playing -- that became one of Anderson's trademarks -- is arguably more pronounced on these recordings as well. Again, "John Henry" displays the picking and strumming techniques that give his decidedly un-amplified vintage Martin acoustic guitar such a full resonance that it practically sounds electric. The instrumental introduction to "Betty and Dupree" exemplifies the walking blues or stride motif particularly evident and notable among Piedmont blues artists. Enthusiasts should also note that in addition to these latter recordings, Anderson also performed on four tracks with his mentor Simmie Dooley in the late '20s for Columbia Records. Those pieces can be found on the compilation Georgia String Bands (1928-1930). Anderson actively toured until a debilitating stroke forced him to retire in 1964."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/6573788000ca59c2/

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Southpaw Otis Rush

Otis Rush- Right Place, Wrong Time

Album Review:
"This recording session was not released until five years after it was done. One can imagine the tapes practically smoldering in their cases, the music is so hot. Sorry, there is nothing "wrong" about this blues album at all. Otis Rush was a great blues expander, a man whose guitar playing was in every molecule pure blues. On his solos on this album he strips the idea of the blues down to very simple gestures (i.e., a bent string, but bent in such a subtle way that the seasoned blues listener will be surprised). As a performer he opens up the blues form with his chord progressions and use of horn sections, the latter instrumentation again added in a wonderfully spare manner, bringing to mind a master painter working certain parts of a canvas in order to bring in more light. Blues fans who get tired of the same old song structures, riff, and rhythms should be delighted with most of Rush's output, and this one is among his best. Sometimes all he does to make a song sound unlike any blues one has ever heard is just a small thing — a chord moving up when one expects it go down, for example. The production is particularly skilled, and the fact that Capitol Records turned this session down after originally producing it can only be reasonably accepted when combined with other decisions this label has made, such as turning down the Doors because singer Jim Morrison had "no charisma." This record doesn't mess around at all. The first track takes off like the man they fire out of a cannon at the end of a circus, a perceived climax swaggeringly representing just the beginning, after all. Some of the finest tracks are the ones that go longer than five minutes, allowing the players room to stretch. And that means more of Rush's great guitar playing, of course. For the final track he leaves the blues behind completely for a moving cover version of "Rainy Night in Georgia" by Tony Joe White. "

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/656782816c36171f/

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Skip James Of Bentonia

Skip James- Blues From The Delta

Album Review:
“Drawing 18 tracks from Skip James' rediscovery recordings made on Vanguard Records—Today! and Devil Got My Woman, plus two previously unreleased tracks—Blues From the Delta is over 75 minutes of the best tracks James ever recorded. Where the definitive cuts of many of these songs haven't been preserved by modern technology without considerable flaws, these tracks, recorded in 1966 and 1968 (respectively), are clear and crisp, highlighting James' tremendous talents. Though it had been 35 years since James first recording sessions, he still possessed his spooky melodic sense, his distinctive guitar and piano playing, and the eerie falsetto that made his original recordings so sought after. These might not be the most historically relevant versions of James' quintessential works, but they are by no means inferior, and on the whole, are much easier to listen to.”

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/6563073748674a98/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Grandiose McTell, Part II

Blind Willie McTell- Atlanta Twelve String

Album Review:
"In 1949, a brief flurry of interest in old-timey country blues resulted in this 15-song session by Blind Willie McTell for the newly formed Atlantic Records. Only two songs, "Kill It Kid" and "Broke Down Engine Blues," were ever issued on a failed single, and the session was forgotten until almost 20 years later. McTell is mostly solo here, vividly captured on acoustic 12-string (his sometime partner Curley Weaver may have been present on some tracks), and in excellent form. The playing and the repertory are representative of McTell as he was at this point in his career, a blues veteran rolling through his paces without skipping a beat and quietly electrifying the listener. Songs include "Dying Crapshooter's Blues," "The Razor Ball," and "Ain't I Grand to Live a Christian.""

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65501598f3ccc9ac/

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Grandiose McTell

Blind Willie McTell- Last Session

Album Review:
"This recording has a less-than-stellar reputation, principally because it was done so late in McTell's career, and it is true that he lacks some of the edge, especially in his singing, that he showed on his other postwar recordings. On the other hand, his 12-string playing is about as nimble as ever and a real treat. McTell cut these sides for record store owner Ed Rhodes, who had begun taping local bluesmen at his shop in Atlanta in the hope of releasing some of it -- McTell took to the idea of recording only slowly, then turned up one night and played for the microphone and anyone who happened to be listening, finishing a pint of bourbon in the process -- the result was a pricelessly intimate document, some of the words slurred here and there, but brilliantly expressive and stunningly played. No apologies are needed for "The Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues," "Don't Forget It," or "Salty Dog," however. McTell lived a few more years but never recorded again, which is a pity because based on this tape he still had a lot to show people. Rhodes never did anything with the tapes, and might've junked them if he hadn't remembered how important the McTell material was -- they turned out to be the only tapes he saved, out of all he'd recorded."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65442435a441e747/

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Maceo's Blues

Big Maceo Merriweather- Bluebird Recordings 1941-1942

Album Review:
"Bluebird Recordings 1941-42 contains all 16 tracks Big Maceo Merriweather recorded for the label during that year, including the classic "Worried Life Blues." Merriweather was one of the most influential barrelhouse blues pianists, and these Bluebird recordings form the core of his legacy. While these recordings are available in more thorough anthologies, this single disc remains an excellent introduction to his best work."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65431052dfaffe51/

Otha Turner And His Fife

Otha Turner And The Afrosippi Allstars- From Senegal To Senatobia

Album Review:
"Mississippi fife legend Turner is joined on this outing by a loose union of players billed as the Afrosippi All Stars. This makeshift band is comprised of members of Turner's family, visiting Senegalese musicians, a university percussion student/organizer, and slide guitarist/producer/North Mississippi All Star Luther Dickinson. Their sympathetic accompaniment on African percussion, kora, and bottleneck guitar give "Shimmy She Wobble," "Station Blues," and Bounce Ball -- reprised from his recording debut, Everybody Hollerin' Goat -- a depth lacking on his earlier versions. Traditional African drums exchange rhythms with marching-band snares and bass drums. Staccato kora melodies complement whining slide guitar riffs. And Turner's shrill, archaic fife floats freely over it all. The title track is the album's most distinctly African number, and probably the only track here easy on the listener's ears. The closing "Sunu" is five minutes of nothing but drums. This is hardly good-time music for casual blues listeners or weekend world music fans, but it's important music all the same, bridging, as it does, great distances between continents and traditions."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/653907591c059bb7/

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Feelings On R.L. Burnside

Seeing as how many young Country Blues fans are fervent admirers of R.L. Burnside, and how his music has drawn more attention to Country Blues than that of anyone else, save Robert Johnson, I'd like to talk about my feelings regarding R.L. Burnside.

Starting around 2000, I tried to become familiar with Burnside and see what the big deal about him was. Unfortunately, I found his guitar playing to be very simplistic, his repertoire to be very limited, and I absolutely hated his fusion projects which Fat Possum Records almost definitely forced upon him.

My second attempt at understanding what was so great about Burnside's music came in the form of renting "Deep Blues" on VHS from my local library. The film, like most Blues documentaries, is pure crap in my humble opinion. The documentary finds an elderly Jack Owens in terrible form. It's also obvious that, although Robert Palmer was tremendously gifted in the field of Blues research, he came across as the personification of a nerd in the movie and took up too much time doing strange things. Lonnie Pitchford, though, was breathtaking.

As for the scene featuring R.L. Burnside, I didn't like the fact that a then-young, white British synth-pop musician was boringly tapping his feet to Burnside's music. My friend remarked that Burnside was barely playing anything on guitar.

It was not until discovering "Burnside On Burnside", which is more of a Blues-Rock album than a Blues album, that I began to appreciate Burnside in some way. After that, I got deeper into the music of Fred McDowell and realized that Burnside was playing on guitar simplified McDowell tunes. I also noticed that Burnside had a very nice voice for the Blues, and that it was unfortunate that his record company pressured him to engage in so many fusion projects.

In fact, up until that point, the only Fat Possum releases I felt were worth a damn were the McDowell, Furry Lewis, and Joe Callicott records.

Upon listening to and trying to appreciate Burnside for the third time, I got a hold of his "First Recordings (Bonus Tracks)" album and felt that it was some sort of mix of McDowell and John Lee Hooker. Some songs had Hooker's simple but beyond heartfelt vocal delivery (with lyrics that rhymed, Mr. Hooker!), and others had McDowell's fast-paced guitar playing. It also dawned on me that there was actually something legitimate to Hill Country Blues. It's a form of music in which musicians "don't know when to change", to put it in non-musical terms, which results in songs not being made up of predictable 12-bar patterns. It's also a form of music which apparently developed in isolation when compared to Delta Blues. Perhaps its roots are closer to West Africa, as well.

Upon further examination of Hill Country Blues, I found that the magnificent Delta Blues musician, Johnny Shines (who also did a handful of electric Chicago Blues-style and even Soul records, by the way) performed some songs in the Hill Country style, such as one of his versions of "Mean Black Gobbler" off of Johnny's "Takin' The Blues Back South" disc.

While Hill Country Blues musicians pale in comparison to the beauty of Willie McTell's guitar playing or J.T. "Funny Papa" Smith's Shakespearean language, McDowell alone justifies the existence and popularity of the Hill Country style. Furthermore, the music of Burnside gives us something which McTell and other, better guitar players, singers and lyricists than Burnside cannot provide us: music to which we can dance.

The Magnificent Scrapper Blackwell

Scrapper Blackwell- Mr. Scrapper's Blues

Album Review:
"Blackwell, it's not always remembered, was rediscovered in the late 1950s, though he didn't have much chance to make a new career out of the blues revival before his death a few years later. He performs well, but not wonderfully, on this July 1961 session in Indianapolis, accompanied only by his guitar (although he uses piano on one song, "Little Girl Blues"). His guitar playing is in better shape than his vocals, and, in fact, his instrumental work is sparkling on tunes like "Blues Before Sunrise," where the pacing and alternation of chords and single-note runs is immaculate. The instrumental "'A' Blues" is also a standout in its tradeoffs between high and low notes. It's mostly blues of a slow and deliberate, if varied, pace, though "Little Boy Blues" picks up the mood into a charging, swinging rhythm."


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Force Of Fred McDowell

Mississippi Fred McDowell- Long Way From Home

Album Review:
"Good no-frills set of acoustic solo blues on bottleneck guitar. The accent is on traditional material, including "Milk Cow Blues," "John Henry, " "Big Fat Mama, " and the title track."

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65328728ac47c6a7/

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Underappreciated Luther Tucker

Luther Tucker- Luther Tucker & The Ford Blues Band

Album Review:
"This album was put together after the premature death of the great Luther Tucker. It features his unique guitar playing, which really doesn't sound like the guitar work of anyone else. The seventeen minute interview at the end of the disc really provides great insight into Luther's life, career in music, huge admiration for Robert Junior Lockwood, and some Chess Records stories about Little Walter and Leonard and Phil Chess, which is quite amusing. "Cleo And Back Again" shows Tucker's experimental side, while "Little Bitty Man" is a song that doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard and has a great melody and almost island-feel to it. "Cha-Cha-La Tucker" is fun, and a recording of "Playboy" is present; while it's different than the one on the "Sad Hours" album, it's very good. The only bad part about this album is that Luther's voice wasn't at its best when recording this material, probably because he was deathly ill at the time and would die soon afterwards, in 1993. Pick up this album!"
-Hard Luck Child

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65285255e0d1a2ac/

Monday, September 7, 2009

First Recordings Of Mr. Burnside

R.L. Burnside- First Recordings (Bonus Tracks)

Album Review:
"At the time these tracks were cut, 1967 and 1968, R.L. Burnside was working on a plantation in Coldwater, MS, cutting silage. Folklorist George Mitchell was on a mission to record unknown blues singers down South. Mitchell heard about Burnside and paid him a visit, asking if he could record him. That night Mitchell returned to Burnside's place with a case of beer and some whiskey. Ten months later, Burnside had his first release. While these 14 tracks didn't jump start Burnside's career, they are stark, organic, and timeless, just Burnside and his acoustic guitar running down mainly traditional material that he arranged. This is an absolute treasure for Burnside aficionados and casual blues listeners alike. [In 2004, this album was released in SACD format with two bonus tracks: a live version of "Come On In" from 1998 and a remix of "Rollin' and Tumblin'."]"

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/65192552ab362dcb/

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kansas Joe McCoy Is One In A Hundred

Kansas Joe McCoy- One In A Hundred

Album Review:
"Joe McCoy was such a prolific recording artist that it comes as something of a shock to realise that this is the first time a complete album has been devoted to his work. Mississippi born singer/guitarist Joe was allegedly the first musician in that state to own and play a National steel guitar. But he is perhaps best known as the first husband of Memphis Minnie, with whom, under the name of Kansas Joe, he recorded hundreds of songs in the early 1930s. The first ten numbers on this CD represent a typical selection of their work from this period, with their twin guitars complementing each other beautifully to provide a distinctive, driving sound, the first track ('When the Levee Breaks') even inspiring a hugely successful cover version some forty years later by the British band Led Zeppelin, and in 2006 by Bob Dylan. Joe and Minnie sometimes sang together, sometimes separately, the tracks featuring just Joe's voice mainly being the ones selected here.

Joe also recorded with his brother Charlie, another fine guitarist and mandolin player, and several of their couplings are included here, including 'Going Back Home Blues', 'Meat Cutter Blues', and the superb 'Evil Devil Woman Blues', the latter apparently influenced by Skip James's recording of a few years earlier. (The two artists also had another song in common with when Skip recorded a version of Joe's 'Cherry Ball Blues'.) Joined by brother Charlie, Joe recorded under the name of 'The Mississippi Mudder', and other of his pseudonyms included 'The Georgia Pine Boy', 'Hallelujah Joe' (on religious renderings), and 'Big Joe' (with a washboard band, as heard on 'I Love You Baby').

The booklet's discographical notes draw a complete blank on the two songs 'My Babe, My Babe' and 'You Done Tore Your Pants With Me', but I can reveal that they were most probably recorded by Joe under yet further noms de disque as 'Bill Wilber' and 'The Palooka Washboard Band', respectively.

A very welcome first solo release by a versatile though neglected artist. "
-Amazon.com Reviewer

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/651919770104dcc6/

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Joe Williams And Friends

Big Joe Williams- Back To The Country

Album Review:
"Fellow Mississippians Jimmy Brown on fiddle and Willie Lee Harris on harmonica augment Big Joe's down-home Delta blues from the blues revival of the 70s."

Download Link: http://rapidshare.com/files/275760864/Big_Joe_Williams.zip.html

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Big Joe Williams And His Raw Sound

Big Joe Williams- Classic Delta Blues

Album Review:
"Classic Delta Blues collects 12 cuts Big Joe Williams cut in 1964. For these recordings, he played a standard six-string guitars instead of hauling out his custom nine-string and the effects are pleasant, but not revelatory."

Download Link: http://rapidshare.com/files/275329939/Big_Joe_Williams.zip.html

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shirley Griffith Carries On Tommy Johnson's Legacy

Shirley Griffith- Saturday Blues

"When I mention Shirley Griffith to anyone, I invariably get the same two questions – he’s a man and his name is Shirley? and Shirley Griffith who? Yes to the first question and I’ll spend the rest of this post explaining the latter. In short Shirley Griffith was a deeply expressive singer and guitarist who learned first hand from Tommy Johnson as a teenager in Mississippi. Griffith missed his opportunity to record as a young man but recorded three superb albums: Indiana Ave. Blues (1964, with partner J.T. Adams), Saturday Blues (1965) and Mississippi Blues (1973). The fact that all three albums are out of print goes a ways in understanding why Griffith remains so little known. He also didn’t benefit all that much from the renewed blues interest of the 1960s; he never achieving the acclaim of late discovered artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell, the critical appreciation of a Robert Pete Williams or the excitement surrounding rediscovered legends like Son House, Skip James or Mississippi John Hurt. He did achieve modest notice touring clubs with Yank Rachell in 1968, performed at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969 and appeared at the Notre Dame Blues Festival in South Bend, Indiana in 1971. Griffith passed away in 1974.

Born in 1907 near Brandon, Mississippi, Griffith was certainly old enough to have made records in the 1920s and '30s and in fact had at least two opportunities to do so. In 1928, his friend and mentor, Tommy Johnson, offered to help him get started, but, by his own account, he was too “wild and reckless” in those days. In 1928, he moved to Indianapolis where he became friendly with Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr. In 1935, Carr offered to take Griffith to New York for a recording session but Carr died suddenly and the trip was never made. It was Art Rosenbaum who was responsible for getting Griffith on record and who also precipitated the comeback of Scrapper Blackwell. Rosenbaum produced Griffith’s Bluesville albums. “I recall one August afternoon”, he wrote in the notes to Saturday Blues, “shortly after these recordings were made; Shirley sat in Scrapper Blackwell’s furnished room singing the Bye Bye Blues with such intensity that everyone present was deeply moved, though they had all heard him sing it many times before. Scrapper was playing , too, and the little room swelled with sound. When they finished there was a moment of awkward silence. Finally Shirley smiled and said: ‘The blues’ll kill you. And make you live, too.’”"

Download Link: http://www.zshare.net/download/6503204845832a87/