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NEWSLETTER #129
Blues & Gospel
Dave Bartholomew ->
Lil Ed Williams
 

ROBERT BELFOUR
EUGENE "HIDEAWAY" BRIDGES
CHARLES BROWN
CLARENCE GARLOW
JOHN LEE HOOKER
B.B. KING
EARL KING
KING LOUIS H. NARCISSE
JOHNNY OTIS
JOHNNY SHINES
BESSIE SMITH
VICTORIA SPIVEY/ SWEET PEASE SPIVEY
THE STARS OF BETHLEHEM/ STARS OF BETHEL
BABE STOVALL
JOE LOUIS WALKER
LIL ED WILLIAMS & WILLIE KENT
 

ROBERT BELFOUR Fat Possum 80369 Pushin' My Luck ● CD $15.98
The second album from fine Mississippi country bluesman Belfour, accompanied on some tracks by drummer Ted Gainey. Perhaps not as strong as his first album since Belfour has a fairly limited repertoire and most songs here have pretty much the same tune. Still it's nice to hear such basic unpretentious music in these times.

 
EUGENE "HIDEAWAY" BRIDGES Armadillo 0015 Jump The Joint ● CD $13.98
Fine new album by this talented singer, guitarist and songwriter. Not quite as strong as his first there is still some fine singing and playing.

 
CHARLES BROWN Stardust 881 The Very Best Of Charles Brown ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 42 mins, recommended
The first 12 tracks on this CD reissues the album produced by Johnny Otis for his Blues Spectrum label in 1974. Charles is in fine form with his distinctive vocals and thoughtful piano work with Shuggie Otis providing some very tasty guitar licks as well as bass and Johnny on drums, vibes and occasional piano. The songs include a few of Charles's old standbys like Driftin' Blues and Black night along with songs by Ray Charles, Leonard Feather and some composed for the session by Otis & Brown. The last two "bonus" songs Let's Make Every Day A Christmas and I'll Be Home For Christmas are obviously from a different session though I would guess from around the same time. They both have pleasing vocals by Charles though the latter song is marred by some horrible electronic guitar sounds. (FS)

 
CLARENCE GARLOW La Cienega 701 Clarence Garlow ● CD $16.98
24 tracks, 67 mins, highly recommended
A most welcome compilation featuring 24 tracks by this fine Louisiana bluesman recorded between 1949 and 1962. Clarence is best known for being the originator of the song Bon Ton Roulet which is featured here in several different variants. He was a fine vocalist with a dark expressive voice and a sensational guitarist whose playing ranged from a relaxed T-Bone Walker/ Pee Wee Crayton style to a a hard edged distorted style. Arrangements are varied ranging from a down home Excello feel with harmonica to hot little bands with horns. A Louisiana feel permeates almost everything here so it's a shame that they didn't include Clarence's zydeco single where he plays accordion! Still, there's enough good stuff out there to put another Garlow CD. It's all good with fine sound and brief discographical info but no notes. (FS)

 
JOHN LEE HOOKER Vestapol DVD 13054 John Lee Hooker & Friends, 1984-1992 ● CD $23.98
Now on DVD. 58 minutes, 10 performances featuring Albert Collins, Ry Cooder, Robert Cray, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite, Bonnie Raitt and others.

 
B.B. KING Ace CDCHM 881 My Kind Of Blues ● CD $12.98
First in a new series of mid priced CDs based around the 12 LPs issued on the budget priced Crown label between 1957 and 1963 by B.B. with bonus cuts not previously available on CD. This album from 1960 featured B.B. singing some of his favorite blues songs accompanied by a small group with Lloyd Glenn on piano. The 8 bonus tracks features 5 previously unissued songs including a recording of the first song B.B. performed on the radio Blues At Sunrise plus a previously unissued alternate take of Hold That Train and two performances not on CD before. Compiled and annotated by John Broven.
B.B. KING: Blues At Sunrise/ Cat Fish Blues (fishin' After Me)/ Drifting Blues/ Driving Wheel/ Hold That Train/ Hold That Train/ Looking The World Over/ Mr Pawn Broker/ My Own Fault, Baby/ Please Set The Date/ Running Wild/ Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door/ Someday Baby/ Sunny Road/ Understand/ Walking Dr Bill/ Walking Dr Bill (overdubbed)/ You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now

 
B.B. KING Ace CDCHM 882 B.B. King Wails ● CD $13.98
This was originally issued in 1959 and features B.B. with big band accompaniment on songs like Sweet Thing/ Come By here/ the Woman I Love/ Time To Say Goodbye, etc. The eight bonus cuts also feature big band accompaniments and includes one unissued song, two alternate takes and other rarities including tracks with backing by the Count Basie Orchestra and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
B.B. KING: Every Day I Have The Blues (with Count Basie Orchestra)/ Come By Here/ I Love You So/ I Stay In The Mood/ I've Got Papers On You Baby/ My Silent Prayer/ Sweet Thing/ The Fool/ The Woman I Love/ Time To Say Goodbye/ Tomorrow Is Another Day/ Treat Me Right/ Trouble In Mind/ We Can't Make It/ Why I Sing The Blues/ Yes, Indeed! (with Tommy Dorsey Orchestra)/ Yesterday/ You've Been An Angel

 
EARL KING Okra Tone 4970 Come On - The Complete Imperial Recordings ● CD $15.98
17 tracks, 44 mins, essential
A fabulous collection featuring all of Earl's great Imperial recordings made between 1960 and 1962. Not only do we get all of Earl's released material this set features two tracks that were unearthed for a long out of print CD and four tracks that have never appeared before in any form. On these sessions produced by Dave Bartholomew, Earl's expressive vocals and sinuous guitar work is accompanied by New Orleans' finest - Wardell Quezergue, James Rivers, Morris Bechamin, James Booker and others. Lots of great songs here including the frequently covered Come On (Parts 1 & 2) and Trick Bag, his only Imperial hit Always A First Time and others. The unissued tracks are every bit as good as the issued material including a remake of his Specialty hit My Mother's Love, the rockin' Nervous Breakdown and, possibly my favorite track here, the gorgeous soul ballad It's Wrong which is alone worth the price of this set. Superb sound, discographical dates and informative notes by Nawlins expert Jeff Hannusch round out an indispensable package of classic New Orleans blues. (FS)

 
LOUISIANA RED Earwig 4947 Driftin' ● CD $15.98
Recent album by this popular and prolific bluesman is half solo and half with a small band featuring Allen Batts/ piano, Brian Bisesi/ guitars, Willie Kent/ bass and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith/ harmonica & drums. Mostly original songs - most of them autobiographical.

 
KING LOUIS H. NARCISSE Gospel Treasures 2001 It's So Nice To Be Nice ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, 71 mins, recommended
Exciting collection of gospel singing featuring 22 tracks recorded between 1949 and 1962 by flamboyant and powerful Oakland singer, preacher, entrepreneur and self professed faith healer. in keeping with his name he had a church "court" complete with princesses, bishops, princes and missionaries! He was a powerful vocalist and was usually accompanied by a small group (usually piano & organ with occasional guitar and percussion) plus occasional congregations. His material was mostly gospel standards along with a couple of originals including a musical rendering of his motto "It's So Nice To Be Nice". One track features a vocal by congregation member and future R&B singer Theola Kilgore. Sound quality is superb and 16 page booklet by Opal Louis Nations gives us a detailed account of Narcisse's fascinating life and music. (FS)

 
JOHNNY OTIS Purple Pyramid 963 The Essential Recordings ● CD $7.98
9 tracks, 33 mins, highly recommended
Another reissue from Johnny's own Blue Spectrum label which he started in the mid 70s to record some of the great blues and R&B pioneers including, of course, himself. Although Johnny is the subject of this release the star is undoubtedly son Shuggie who turns in some truly magnificent guitar work - the vocal tracks leave him plenty of room for lengthy imaginative solos and three of the four instrumental tracks really give a chance to stretch out. His playing is consistently - dexterous but never flashy and always appropriate. The material is a mix of new compositions and old favorites like Harlem Nocturne/ Willie & The Hand Jive and Country. Several of the tracks feature the fine vocals of Delmar Evans and on the soulful blues Bad Luck Shadow, Shuggie shows his talent as a slide player. (FS)

 
JOHNNY SHINES Hightone 8153 Skull & Crossbones Blues ● CD $11.98
Part of Hightone's "Heritage Of the Blues" this is a great mid-priced collection drawn from previously issued CDs of Johnny on Testament and Hightone. The full range of his considerable talents are features including acoustic and electric solo performances and sessions with Chicago blues bands and West Coast blues bands. Lots of his great slide guitar is featured. Sidemen on these sessions include Big Walter Horton, Otis Spann, Luther Allison, Phillip walker, David Ii, Nat Dove and others.

 
BESSIE SMITH Frog DGF 44 The Complete Recordings - Volume 5 ● CD $18.98
23 tracks, 71 minutes, essential
If you don't own any Bessie Smith discs, start here. This is the fifth release in Frog's acclaimed, eight-volume restoration of the great blues diva's Columbia output. With these March 1926 to March 1927 sessions, Columbia's New York engineers had fully mastered the intricacies of electrical recording. British sound restoration specialist John R.T. Davies supervised new digital transfers from pristine laminated 78s, resulting in the best-sounding CD in Frog's Smith series to date. As with the previous volumes, most sides feature musicians from Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, usually clarinetist Buster Bailey, cornetist Joe Smith and Henderson on piano. Coleman Hawkins makes a rare appearance on clarinet on one date, and Jimmie Harrison and Charlie Green split trombone chores on two March 1927 sessions. This set features many bona-fide Smith standards, including What's the Matter Now (with composer Clarence Williams on piano), Jazzbo Brown from Memphis Town/ The Gin House Blues/ Send Me to 'Lectric Chair and Trombone Cholly. Smith penned six songs, including Young Woman Blues and two classics backed by stride piano master James P. Johnson: Preachin' the Blues and the topical Backwater Blues. The March 2, 1927, date features four pop tunes, possibly Columbia's attempt to duplicate Ethel Waters' crossover success. Smith clearly relishes chestnuts like Alexander's Ragtime Band/ There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight/ After You've Gone and the more contemporary Muddy Water. Columbia issued two takes of the latter, and both appear here. If you already have Columbia's Bessie Smith boxes, hang on to them for the graphics and Chris Albertson's notes. But once you hear the Frogs, you'll never play those Columbia discs again. (DS)

 
VICTORIA SPIVEY/ SWEET PEASE SPIVEY Blues Collection 160 362 Queen Victoria, 1927-1937 ● CD $11.98
22 tracks, 71 mins, essential
Victoria Spivey was a truly superb performer. She was an earthy singer with an intense nasal moaning style - she sounds very much like a country blues singer though she recorded in an urban environment. Her lyrics were often more imaginative than her contemporaries dealing in an interesting and witty way with themes of sex, drugs, violence and illness. This is a cross section of her recordings made between 1927 and 1937 and finds her in the company of stellar musicians like Lonnie Johnson, King Oliver, Eddie Lang (dig his spellbinding use of guitar harmonics on Organ Grinder Blues), Louis Armstrong, Henry "Red" Allen, Georgia Tom Dorsey, Tampa Red and others who perfectly complement Victoria's gorgeous singing. Songs include Arkansas Road Blues/ Christmas Morning Blues/ New Black Snake Blues (an incredible two part song done as a duet with Lonnie Johnson)/How Do You Do I That Way/ Moaning The Blues/ Showered With The Blues/ T.B.'s Got Me and others. This set also includes three tracks by Victoria's younger sister Addie "Sweet Pease" Spivey who is fine though her performances pale in comparison to those of her sister. Sound is excellent and there are notes and discographical information. After you've heard this you might want to investigate the four CDs of all of Victoria's early work on Document (5316 -> 5219 - $15.98 each). (FS)
SWEET PEASE SPIVEY: Grievin' Me/ I Got A Man In The 'bama Mines/ Leaving You Baby/ VICTORIA SPIVEY: Arkansas Road Blues/ Christmas Morning Blues/ Detroit Moan/ Dirty T.b Blues/ Don't Trust Nobody Blues/ Down Hill Pull/ Funny Feathers/ Give It To Him/ Hollywood Stomp/ How Do You Do It That Way?/ I Can't Last Long/ Moaning The Blues/ New Black Snake Blues Pt. 1/ New Black Snake Blues Pt. 2/ Organ Grinder Blues/ Showered With The Blues/ Sweet Pease/ T.b.'s Got Me/ Telephoning The Blues/ The Alligator Pond Went Dry

 
THE STARS OF BETHLEHEM/ STARS OF BETHEL Gospel Treasures 2000 BETHEL : Above My Heard ● CD $14.98
12 tracks from 1960 by the Stars Of Bethlehem and two from 1954 by The Stars Of Bethel - two fine Los Angeles gospel groups who shared some of the same members. The latter group featured the first recordings of Johnny Lamar Young who later became better known as Little Johnny Taylor.

 
BABE STOVALL Arcola 1005 The Old Ace - Mississippi Blues & Religious Songs ● CD $14.98
15 tracks, 50 mins, essential
A most welcome release - the first ever CD release of fine New Orleans singer/ guitarist Babe Stovall. Babe was originally from Mississippi where he was born in 1907 and started playing music when 8 years old. He performed with his eight older brothers - all of whom played music. In his 20s he met legendary Mississippi bluesman Tommy Johnson and learned from him. He never become a full time musician though by the time he moved to New Orleans in the early 60s it became his primary source of income. Babe was more of a songster than a straight bluesman and played a wide variety of material drawing on both black and white musical traditions. He was a powerful singer with gruff voice and played some fine guitar usually on a steel bodied National. The recordings here were made by Bob West in 1968 and find Babe in fine form on a collection of mostly traditional blues and gospel songs including Good Morning Blues/ Going To Wear You Off My Mind/ Baby let Me Follow You Down/ Will The Circle Be Unbroken?/ Dirty Mistreater/ God's Word Shall Never Pass Away and others including a particularly nice version of Tommy Johnson's Big Road Blues which he neatly segues into a superb version of Careless Love. The disc ends with a couple of spoken word tracks where Babe talks about his family and playing music in New Orleans. Babe was recorded quite often between the late 50s and late 60s and it would sure be nice if some of those recordings were also to find their way on to CD. Includes 12 page booklet wqith some great photos and informative notes by David Evans who knew Babe well. An exemplarary and important release. (FS)

 
 
JOE LOUIS WALKER JSP 2157 She's My Money Maker ● CD $16.98
Joe's fourth new album in less than a year is a collection of 10 songs - mostly new originals by Joe accompanied by a small group and featuring lots of his much in demand slide guitar playing.

 
LIL ED WILLIAMS & WILLIE KENT Earwig 4941 Who's Been Talking ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 53 min, recommended When Li'l Ed & the Blues Imperials 1st came out in '86 & I saw them do a tremendous set at Larry Blake's in Berkely, I predicted stardom for these guys. Ed, who learned slide from his uncle J.B. Hutto is a hell of a guitarist & showman. For a little while he took a break from the Imperials & during that time recorded this gem, with famed bassist Kent & famed Chicago (& former ex-patriot) guitarist Eddie C. Campbell for Earwig. There's a bunch of fine Ed & Kent originals (I Wanna Get Married/ Going Shopping) as well as covers by suspects usual (Howlin' Wolf's title track, a couple Elmore James tunes including a blistering Bobby's Rock, Uncle J.B.'s Newspaper Blues) as well as unusual - Donny Hathaway's The Ghetto, & Monk Higgin's Bird Nest On The Ground. (GM)

 

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