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NEWSLETTER #130
Blues & Gospel
Jesse Allen ->
Louisiana Red
 

LITTLE WALKIN' WILLIE/ JESSE ALLEN
BIG BILL BROONZY
KENNY BROWN
EDDIE CLEARWATER
JAMES COTTON
WALTER DAVIS
THE DIXIE HUMMINGBIRDS
RONNIE EARL
CECIL GANT
THE GRIFFIN BROTHERS
BUDDY GUY
 
HARMONICA SHAH BLUES BAND
SON HOUSE
REVEREND CHARLIE JACKSON
SKIP JAMES
B.B. KING
SAM LAY
J.B. LENOIR
FURRY LEWIS
LOUISIANA RED
 



LITTLE WALKIN' WILLIE/ JESSE ALLEN Official 5680 Little Walkin' Willie Meets Jesse Allen ● CD $17.98
26 tracks, 67 mins, highly recommended Great collection of blues and R&B. Little Walkin Willie is an obscure but excellent tenor saxophone player who worked with Washington D.C. based band Frank Motley & His Motley Crew. He storms his way through six hot instrumentals with a tough band and vocal interjections. But the real star here is Jesse Allen who is featured on 20 tracks recorded between 1951 and '59 for various label. Allen, from New Orleans, was an excellent singer and a stunning guitarist and although he doesn't get to show his guitar chops on every track when he does let loose - beware! You might want to have a fire extinguisher when he lets loose the Guitar Slim flavored After Awhile. There are lots of great tracks here - often featuring top New Orleans sidemen like Lee Allen, Red Tyler, Earl Palmer, James Booker and others. It's too bad Allen disappeared off the scene in the 60s - he was a real talent. (FS)

 
BIG BILL BROONZY Jasmine 3011/2 On Tour In Britain, 1952 ● CD $17.98
2 CDs, 47 tracks, 124 minutes, recommended
 Approximately 30 minutes of this fine 2-CD set consists of Big Bill Broonzy talking to his audience, but the performance level remains fairly high throughout. Disc one was recorded at Usher Hall in Edinburgh in February of 1952 and although Broonzy is in strong and stable form, the preponderance of slow material may be a bit distracting. A stunning House Rent Stomp and tough as nails Plough Hand Blues are the standouts. Disc two was recorded at Hove Town Hall near Brighton almost ten months later in December and finds Broonzy in riveting fashion delivering a set of folk and blues songs. John Henry/ Midnight Special/ Back Water Blues/ Willie Mae and others are brilliant. Careless Love and I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover find Broonzy accompanied by the Christie Brothers Stompers, a small jazz outfit with trombone, trumpet, clarinet and a rhythm section. Broonzy's lengthy conversations with his audience are of particular interest as are the informative liner notes. (CR)

 
EDDIE CLEARWATER Bullseye Blues 9640 Rock 'n' Roll City ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 44 minutes, excellent. Pairing Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater up with Los Straitjackets proves a strong measure for the guitarist who's always kept one foot planted in vintage rock 'n' roll territory. He's never strayed far from his blues and Chuck Berry leanings, and he's definitely enjoying himself here with a romping set of smoldering music. You're Humbuggin' Me/ Ding Dong Daddy, and Let The Four Winds Blow get solid readings while Clearwater's originals are particularly high-spirited. He reprises his own Hillbilly Blues and sounds just as young as when he first recorded in 1958. The masked band does a stellar job backing Eddy up on a project that's been long-awaited. Special mention to Los Straitjackets' Eddie Angel for contributing his own Lonesome Town as well as superb guitar throughout. Monkey Paw gets top honors as a manic surfabilly instrumental. (CR)

 
JAMES COTTON Universe 77 Live And On The Move ● CD $16.98
Cotton's 1975 Buddah double LP has been reissued on CD several times before and now makes it's appearance on this Italian label. As you would expect, this 1975 live set offers plenty of high energy harmonica blues. Includes Cotton Boogie/ All Walks Of Life/ Flip, Flop & Fly/ Rocket 88/ I Don't Know/ Boogie Thing/ You Don't Have To Go/ Fannie Mae/ Teeny Weenie Bit/ How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong, etc. Solid singing and playing from James and his band including Matt Murphy on guitar.. (FS)

 
WALTER DAVIS Fabulous 204 Don't You Want To Go? ● CD $7.98
17 tracks, 59 mins, highly recommended
Superb, budget priced, introduction to the recordings of this wonderful performer featuring 17 tracks ranging from his first session in June, 1930 to his last in July, 1952. Davis is one of my favorite performers with his wonderful lugubrious vocal style and sensitive piano accompaniments. On his earliest sides he was accompanied on piano by the great Roosevelt Sykes but soon took over the piano role himself. He is featured solo and with guitar accompaniments from Henry Townsend or Big Joe Williams and his last session features John Moore on tenor sax. Davis was a great songwriter and quite a few of his songs were picked up by later generations of bluesmen. Unlike previous releases on the Fabulous label, the sound quality here is superb and there are brief notes by Neil Slaven who doesn't have as high an opinion of Davis as I do.(FS)
WALTER DAVIS: Ashes In My Whiskey/ Don't You Want To Go/ Howling Wind Blues/ L & N Blues/ Let Me In Your Saddle/ M & O Blues/ Minute Man Pt1/ Minute Man Pt2/ Moonlight Is My Spread/ New Come Back Baby/ Root Man Blues/ Sweet Sixteen/ Tears Came Rollin' Down/ That Stuff You Sell Ain't No Good/ The Only Woman/ Think You Need A Shot/ What Your Troubles May Be

 
THE DIXIE HUMMINGBIRDS Gospel Friend 1503 Jesus Has Traveled This Road Before ● CD $14.98
Fabulous collection by this great and long lived gospel group featuring 25 sides recorded between 1939 and 1952. There's a lot of duplication with Document 5491 and P-Vine 5818 but sound quality here is better, price is cheaper and it includes half a dozen of their fantastic early 50s sides that are alone worth the price. It also includes a 12 page booklet with extensive notes by `Birds biographer Jerry Zolten and Per Notini.

 
RONNIE EARL Stony Plain 1289 I Feel Like Goin' On ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 75 minutes, essential
Capturing the full scope of passion and intensity within the confines of a studio isn't easy, and it's tougher when an artist decides to go almost all-instrumental, but from the searing opener, Hey Jose, Ronnie Earl proves he's running again with all eight cylinders wide open. Blues For Otis Rush is a grinding eight-and-a-half minute slow roll, there's a nod to Little Johnny Lee, a rustling Wolf Dance and Howlin' For My Darlin' - both recalling Chester Burnett. The only vocal appears on Mary Don't You Weep with the Silver Leaf Gospel Singers, while Blues For The Homeless is more than eleven minutes of stellar guitar going from whispers to full-throttle dynamics. There's a tip of the hat to Big Walter Horton, Hank Marr, and more. When blues is delivered by a true master, it's bound to be enjoyable, but when it's played by one of the most expressive guitarists around, it becomes much more. A true modern masterpiece. (CR)

 
CECIL GANT Blue Moon 6035 The Complete - Volume 4 : 1946-1949 ● CD $22.98
The fourth volume in this excellent series features 28 tracks recorded for Bullet between 1946 and 1949 and features Cecil's typical mix of hot boogies, delicate ballads, hard blues and up tempo Fats Wallerish sides. It includes a remake of his most famous song I Wonder featuring Cecil playing a celeste. It also includes the great Cecil's Jam Session. Most tracks feature a rhythm section and a couple of the tracks feature some tasy tenor sax from Charles Grant.

 
THE GRIFFIN BROTHERS Acrobat ACRCD 209 Blues With A Beat ● CD $10.98
23 tracks, 64 mins, highly recommended
Terrific collection of jumping R&B and blues recorded in the early 50s by this outstanding combo from the Washington D.C. area. This Buddy Johnson/ Louis Jordan inspired outfit fronted two superb vocalists, Margie Day (heard here singing her classic version of Little Red Rooster and her lowdown I'm Gonna Jump In the River) and Tommy Brown who is thought to have reinvented the crying blues on Weepin' & Cryin'. The album includes several dynamite instrumentals that'll rock your socks off! Excellent sound and informative notes by Dave Penny. (FS)
THE GRIFFIN BROTHERS: Ace In The Hole/ Blues All Alone/ Blues With A Beat/ Comin'home/ Double Faced Deacon/ Griff's Boogie/ Hot Pepper/ House Near The Railroad Track/ I Wanna Go Back/ I'll Get A Deal/ I'm Gonna Jump In The River/ It'd Surprise You/ Little Red Rooster/ One Steady Baby/ Pretty Baby/ Sadie Green/ Shuffle Bug/ Stormy Night/ Stubborn As A Mule/ The Clock Song (let Your Pendulum Swing)/ The Teaser/ Tra La La/ Weepin' And Cryin'

 
BUDDY GUY Silvertone 41843 Blues Singer ● CD $17.98
12 tracks, 49 minutes, good
It's possible that Buddy Guy wants to be more of a chameleon like Eric Clapton, or maybe it's that Buddy doesn't quite know what he wants anymore. One thing is certain, he's not the Buddy Guy we knew before. Doing Mississippi Hill Country blues on "Sweet Tea" proved to be less than his best, and with Blues Singer he strips back for an acoustic set that could get tedious after a few spins even though B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and James Mathus guest. Guy's version of Hard Time Killing Floor is a fine effort with some excellent singing, but Can't See Baby/ Louise McGhee/ Black Cat Blues and Bad Life Blues don't go far. I Love The Life I Live gets a good reading with Guy tipping his hat to Muddy Waters but John Lee Hooker's Sally Mae just sits there. This surely isn't Buddy's worst, but it's not even close to his heroic West Side efforts of tha late 1950s. (CR)

 
HARMONICA SHAH BLUES BAND Electro-Fi 3377 Tell It To your Landlord ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 67 minutes, recommended
With blues more acceptable today, we've grown used to far too many over-produced, antiseptic projects. This, on the other hand, is as raw as it comes. Slow And Easy is a romping uptown shuffle with an abundance of grease and Shah's harp and vocals are in the alley here and throughout the rest of the set. He's particularly strong on Welfare Shoes Blues/ I Heard You Was At The Casino, and Crying Michigan Tears, while the title track is a funked-up instrumental slammer with exceptional blowing. Howard Glazer's guitar work is solid from start to finish. If you prefer your blues with any production values at all, you'd do well to steer clear of this, but if you like it lowdown, stumbling, and dragging in the gutter, this will become a gem in your collection. The standout is the closer, Someday with its on-target lyrics, devil-may-care approach, and crackling simplicity. (CR)

 
SON HOUSE Shout Factory 30251 Heroes Of The Blues - The Very Best Of Son House ● CD $13.98
16 track retrospective including My Black Mama, Part One/ Dry Spell Blues/ Levee Camp Blues/ Shetland Pony Blues/ Special Rider Blues/ American Defence/ Walkin' Blues/ Empire State Express, etc.

 
SKIP JAMES Biograph 30169 Hard Time Killing Floor Blues ● CD $13.98
12 tracks, 51 mins, highly recommended
Reissue of Biograph 122. It's hard to be objective about the music of Skip James - his singing and guitar playing are so stark, unique and haunting that just about everything he does sends a shiver down my spine. These are the first studio recordings James made after his rediscovery in 1964 when Bill Barth, Henry Vestine and John Fahey found him in a hospital in Tunica. MS. The 12 tracks here of the high-voiced James and his acoustic guitar, while not quite as good as his brilliant later Vanguard albums, are still superb featuring remakes of some of his classic Paramount recordings along with several new songs. His Sick Bed Blues/ Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues, written about his struggles with cancer, are downright chilling. A fine reworking of his classic Devil Got My Woman is here too, as are Hardtime Killing Floor Blues/ Illinois Blues/ Catfish Blues/ All Night Long/ Cherry Ball Blues and more. Excellent sound and informative notes from Brett Bonner of Living Blues magazine. (JC)

 
SKIP JAMES Shout Factory 30245 Heroes Of The Blues - The Very Best Of Skip James ● CD $13.98
16 track retrospective - 22-20 Blues/ Special Rider Blues/ How Long Blues/ Sick Bed Blues/ Hard Time Killing Floor Blues/ Illinois Blues/ Cherry Ball Blues/ Everybody's Leaving Here, etc.

 
B.B. KING Ace CDCHM 897 King Of The Blues ● CD $13.98
The third budget priced reissue of B.B.'s Crown LPs features his sixth Crown album which featured 10 tracks from the late 50s. The ten bonus tracks are drawn from Kent singles issued in the 60s - many of them after B.B. moved from RPM to ABC.
B.B. KING: 3 O'clock Blues/ Feel Like A Million/ Going Down Slow/ Good Man Gone Bad/ Growing Old/ I Can't Lose (aka I Can't Lose With The Stuff I Use)/ I'll Survive/ I'm King/ I've Got A Right To Love My Baby/ If I Lost You/ Long Nights (the Feeling They Call The Blues)/ Partin' Time/ Tell Me Baby/ That's How Much You Mean To Me/ Things Are Not The Same/ What Way To Go/ When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer (aka Million Years Blues)/ Whole Lot Of Lovin' Aka Whole Lotta' Love/ Worried Life/ You're On The Top

 
 
SAM LAY Random Chance 8 I Get Evil ● CD $14.98
10 tracks, 43 minutes, very good
Sam Lay got his nickname, the Shufflemaster, from his ability to lay down a driving and relentless backbeat. That ability is shown to good effect in his latest offering which follows work on Appaloosa, Evidence, and Telarc. Lay has a fine band in tow for Jimmy Reed's You're So Fine, with good harp from Fingers Taylor while Fred James dishes out fine guitar on Lowell Fulson's Black Night and Albert King's I Get Evil. Muddy Waters' Mean Disposition gets a nice reading and Jay McShann's Hands Off rides along the familiar mojo groove. The true gems here show Sam Lay on guitar, playing convincingly in a country blues style for Rock Me Baby/ Boogie Chillen, and Muddy's Still A Fool. Lay's own slow and deliberate instrumental, Sam's Big Boy, is just as satisfying. This revelation itself makes the disc worth its admission price. (CR)

 
J.B. LENOIR JSP JSPCD 2154 One Of These Mornings ● CD $16.98
16 tracks, 49 mins, recommended
Reissue of LP JSP 1105 with five bonus cuts. This is a fascinating album of previously unissued recordings. The first seven tracks are from a demo tape made by Willie Dixon in 1962 and features Willie and J.B. chatting and singing songs. J.B. accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and includes a few old songs that he hadn't recorded elsewhere. The music is enjoyable and the repartee between J.B. and Dixon is delightful. Most of the remaining nine tracks are from a live concert with J.B. and his acoustic guitar (plus occasional drums from Fred Below) and include some of his more intensely personal and political songs - Alabama Blues/ The Whale/ Remove The Rope, etc. The last three tracks seem to be from a different source and are of lower quality than the rest but are worthwhile performances. (FS)

 
FURRY LEWIS Fat Possum 80374 Good Morning Judge ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 42 minutes, highly recommended
Originally recorded by George Mitchell in Memphis, Furry cut Don't You Come Home Blues and Furry Lewis Rag in 1962, while the remaining eight tracks were done in 1967. Considering he was near and beyond 70 when these were done, his spirit and performing capabilities are alarming with stunning guitar playing and full, passionate vocals. He offers great slide on the title track, romping rhythmic sense on Worried Blues, and decades-old bass string snaps on Blues Around My BedFurry Lewis Rag (with washtub bass by Dewey Corley - though not credited). His interpretation of Roll And Tumble Blues is a standout, and more than a few steps from the time-tested version most of us are used to. Sound quality is excellent throughout.(CR)

 
FURRY LEWIS Shout Factory 30248 Heroes Of The Blues - The Very Best Of Furry Lewis ● CD $13.98
16 track collection of the great Memphis country bluesman includes three of his classic Victor sides from 1928 along with 13 tracks recorded in the 60s for Adelphi (with Lee Baker Jr. on backup guitar), Biograph and Bluesville. Includes Furry's Blues/ Judge Harsh Blues/ Natural Born Eastman/ If You Follow Me Babe/ Why Don't You Come Home Blues/ St. Louis Blues/ Long Tall Gal Blues/ Shake 'Em On Down/ Bbay You Don't Want Me, etc.

 
LOUISIANA RED Earwig 4947 Driftin' ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 60 minutes, excellent
Louisiana Red has never been your average bluesman. While many write from personal experiences, there are few that can match the stark brutality of Iverson Minter. The opening title cut is a riveting Westside Chicago groove with brittle guitar from Brian Bisesi and tough harp, then Red settles into a barebones Delta feel for Hard, Hard Time with fine bottleneck. The vocals in Keep Your Hands On The Plow are spine-chilling while Getting Weaker Day By Day doesn't sound too far from Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf's best sides. Chankity Chank Chank might sound a bit trivial with its odd title, but the thundering backbeat and funky delivery mark it as a keeper. With support from Allan Batts, Willie Kent, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and others, there's plenty of electricity and solid playing. (CR)

 

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