Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Mystery Man's Blues

Gene Campbell- Complete Recorded Works (1929-1931)

"Nothing is known about the life of blues guitarist and singer Gene Campbell beyond his surviving 78s and the dates and matrix numbers of his recording sessions. Given his stylistic leanings (he has a vocal approach somewhat similar to Texas Alexander), Campbell is usually listed as a Texan, but that remains conjecture. He did do his first recording session in Dallas, tracking two songs for Brunswick Records in 1929. Ten more songs for Brunswick were cut in Chicago in May 1930, followed by four more back in Dallas later that year in November. Campbell's last known session resulted in eight tracks recorded on January 22 and 23, 1931, in Chicago, again for Brunswick Records, and that's where the trail ends, with Campbell vanishing into thin air."

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

He Murdered His Baby

Buddy Moss- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1933-1934)

Album Review:
"For completists, specialists and academics, Document's Complete Recordings, Vol. 2: 1933-1934 is invaluable, offering an exhaustive overview of Buddy Moss' early recordings. For less dedicated listeners, the disc is a mixed blessing. There are some absolutely wonderful, classic performances on the collection, but the long running time, exacting chronological sequencing, poor fidelity (all cuts are transferred from original acetates and 78s), and number of performances are hard to digest. The serious blues listener will find all these factors to be positive, but enthusiasts and casual listeners will find that the collection is of marginal interest for those very reasons. "

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Mighty Tight Woman

Sippie Wallace- Mighty Tight Woman

Album Review:
"Mighty Tight Woman from 1967 represents the unusual marriage of the classic blues era with the urban folk revival of the '60s, pitting a couple of blues legends with their improbable inheritors. The star of the album is Sippie Wallace, one of the original "red hot mamas" of the '20s and '30s vaudeville circuit, who cut her first record ("Up the Country") in 1923; rediscovered in 1965 and performing again, she is joined here by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, with whom she also teamed up for a couple of live shows. The record attracted little attention, but it did manage to showcase the abilities and personality of the 69-year-old blueswoman, who surely enjoyed strutting her stuff with her young white hippie admirers; furthermore, four tracks boast first-rate accompaniment by Otis Spann, Muddy Waters' exemplary pianist. On these tracks, above all, Wallace seems wonderfully in her element. The Jug Band themselves have the good sense to remain on the sidelines for the most part (compared with their usual over-the-top exuberance), allowing the veteran Wallace to do her own thing, performing in classic blues style. The album's repertoire consists largely of Wallace's earlier tunes, including "Up the Country," "Special Delivery," and the title track; also included is her tribute to the modern-day Joe Lewis, Mohammed Ali. In the final cut -- the jazz standard "Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don't Love Nobody But Me)" -- Kweskin and company do join in full swing, offering a magnificent duet between kazoo and comb; the band also fares pretty well on "Separation Blues," in which vocalist Maria Mulduar lends a nice support to Wallace's refrain. All in all, Mighty Tight Woman is not a must-have on anyone's list, but it is probably much more overlooked than it deserves. The unlikely three-way collaboration shows a more serious and subtle side of Kweskin's Jug Band, and -- most importantly -- it provides a welcome new vehicle and audience for both Wallace and Spann, two legitimate blues masters."

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