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NEWSLETTER #140
Blues & Gospel
Etta Baker & Cora Phillips ->
Meade Lux Lewis
 

 

NEW BOOKS

 
 
JOOK RIGHT ON Blues Stories And Blues Storytellers by Barry Lee Pearson BOOK $19.95
Paper, 233 pages, counts as three CDs for shipping
Reminiscent of Pal Oliver's classic "Conversation With The Blues" this book presents stories of the life of the bluesman told in the words of the musicians themselves. The extracts presented are drawn from interviews done by the author over a period of 35 years with 98 performers and are arranged thematically. Among the wide spectrum of artists interviewed are Yank Rachell, Koko taylor, Junior Kimbrough, Doctor Ross, Etta BakerMamie davis, "Boogie Bill" Webb, Robert Junior Lockwood, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Little Milton, Byther Smith, "H-Bomb" Ferguson, Moses "haywire Tom" Williams, James Thomas and many others. Includes many artist photos.

 
BLACK HOBOES & THEIR SONGSWhat's The Use Of Walking If There's A Freight Train Goin' My Way by Paul Garon & Gene Tomko BOOK $21.95
288 pages, paper, plus compact disc, highly recommended
Fascinating and important new addition to blues literature discussing the life and music of black hoboes. The book defines hoboes as itinerant workers and examines the extremely arduous jobs they took in the lumber and turpentine indutry, share cropping and cotton farming, coal mining, levee building and the steel industry. It discusses their travels from town to town by train often risking death in order to travel free by riding on the cowccatcher, "the blinds" or "the rods" or at the hands of the vicious railroad police - the bulls. Many blues artists spent part of their life as hoboes so it's not surprising that it featured in many songs and this book includes transcriptions of 100 such songs and includes a bonus CD with 25 of them from the likes of Tampa Red, Texas Alexander, Wesley Wallace, Sleepy John Estes, Charles Segar, Blind Blake and many more. It also includes first hand written accounts, photos and other relevant illustrations. (FS)

 
PEOPLE GET READY! A NEW HISTORY OF BLACK GOSPEL MUSIC by Robert Darden BOOK $16.95
Paper, 424 pages, counts as 5 CDS for shipping
A new in depth look at the history of black gospel music from its roots in slavery time to the present day including jubilee singers, early solo recording artists, the pioneering gospel composers, the great post war quartets of the 40s and 50s, the preachers, the soloists who took gospel to the concert halls, the decline of the quartets and the modern sounds. Although we haven't had a chance to read the book it looks to cover a lot of territory in an interesting and readable manner. Includes a number of photos and a listing of recommended recordings by many of the artists discussed in the text.

 
BROADCASTING THE BLUES by Paul Oliver BOOK $19.95
Paperbac, 191 pages, counts as three CDs for shipping
This new book by one the world's leading writers on the blues is a collection of radio scripts drawn from some 30 years of broadcasting on the subject. Paul covers a wide range of topics including the origins of the blues, African retentions in the blues, field recordings, "classic" blues, blues and black society, prison experiences, documentation of the blues and much more. The original talks were illustrated with numerous musical examples which are referenced in the text and in more detail in the discography. Due to be released very shortly is a three CD set on Document featuring many of these recordings along with interviews.

 

 

NEW DVD

   
SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE/ MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT, ETC Shanachie DVD 607 Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest DVD $16.98
The first show feature five ongs by the duo plus one solo by each and five where they are joined by Pete. The second show features two songs by Mississippi John Hurt, three by Hedy West and three by Paul Caldwell plus several solos by Pete.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
 
 
ETTA BAKER & CORA PHILLIPS Music Maker 56 Carolina Breakdown CD $15.98
16 tracks, 48 mins., recommended
The mission of Music Maker is to support the work of true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern traditional music. This CD couldn't be a more perfect realization of that mission. Sisters Etta Baker and Cora Phillips recorded these tracks between 1988 and 1990 in North Carolina when both were past 75. They carry forward a family string band and blues tradition learned from their father Boone Reid in the early part of the 20th century, playing guitar and banjo and singing great folk standards and oddities in the truest of traditional styles. This is a fine summer porch visit with these fine ladies as they spin off tunes from "John Henry" to "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad". Taj Mahal credits Etta and Cora as deep inspirations and it's easy to hear why. (DC)

 
EUGENE "HIDEAWAY" BRIDGES Armadillo 0021 Coming Home CD $14.98
21 tracks, 53 min., very highly recommended
A fine singer and an even better songwriter, Bridges has "next-big-thing" written all over him -- too bad so many people can't read. Although Coming Home is Bridges' fourth album (at least), he remains a well-kept secret in the States, adding some weight to his nickname. He spends much of his time playing his way through Europe. Lucky Europe. B.B. King is an obvious point of reference here, but Bridges is too good to be shoved aside as another B.B. wanna be. And Sam Cooke is clearly occupying space in Bridges' head, but not so much in the sound of his voice as in his phrasing, as is clearly heard on the superior In Your Arms Tonight, which is a Bridges original, along with all the other songs. His pen and guitar hit all the right notes as he moves from the straight-ahead blues of I'm Going Back to Giving Up On Love, which despite its subject matter is uplifting and playful, full of radio potential in a Robert Cray "Bad Influence"-like way. Instantly likeable and wears well too. (JC)

 
BIG GEORGE BROCK & THE HOUSEROCKERS Cat Head 001 Club Caravan CD $14.98
12 tracks, 41 min., highly recommended
How good can an unknown bluesman in his seventies be, backed as he is with a band of unknowns where everyone is related by blood? Pretty damn good. Over the years, the Mississippi-born Brock has blown life into his harp with the best (Muddy Waters,, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed), owned several blues clubs (including the one where a stray bullet from the gun of a drunken patron killed his Brock's wife), and played and lived a lot of blues. On this album, recorded studio live in three and a half hours with "no overdubs or computer trickery," Brock is backed by the Riley Coatie band (a.k.a. The Houserockers), made up of Riley and his (grown) children, who play like they just walked out of 1957. Brock's sound in reminiscent of early Howlin' Wolf records, not just in the style of his singing or harp playing, but in the physical power of both. Eight of the 12 songs are Brock originals, including the outstanding minimalism of M For Mississippi, where harmonica is boss. As authentic as it gets. (JC)

 
BUTCH CAGE & WILLIE THOMAS Arhoolie 9045 Old Time Black Southern String Band Music CD $9.98
Simply wonderful collection of raucous good time blues featuring vocalist/ fiddle player Butch and vocalist/ guitarist Willie Thomas recorded by Harry Oster in the early 60s. All but one track are previously unissued and feature the duo doing Bugle Call Blues/ Mean Old Frisco/ Hen Cackle/ Rock Me Mama/ Easy Rider Blues/ I Had A Dream Last Night/ Sneaky Ways, etc. Blues at its most natural and honest withour any artifice.

 
SUGAR PIE DESANTO Jasman 10006 Refined Sugar CD $15.98
New album from veteran Bay Area singer DeSanto is an entertaining collection of blues, R&B and blues ballads - mostly original songs by Sugar Pie and producer James Moore.

 
DAVID "HONEY BOY" EDWARDS Document 32-20 8 Blues, Blues CD $16.98
Fine Mississippi bluesman recorded in Austria in 1975. David accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and ocassionally on neck-rack harmonica on a selection of mostly blues standards - Catfish Blues/ Sweet Home Chicago/ Bumble Bee/ Kansas City/ Take Me In Your Arms, etc. David's warm husky vocals and fine guitar work helps bring these warhorses to life. For a studio recording these recordings sound a bit muffled.

 
LOWELL FULSON Classics 5164 The Chronological Lowell Fulson, 1949-1951 CD $14.98
The fourth volume of Lowell's recordings features 22 sides recorded between early 1949 and September 1951 including two of his biggest R&B hits Blue Shadows and Lonesome Christmas, Parts 1 & 2. It also includes his great rendition of Sinner's Prayer that later was covered by his former band member Ray Charles.

 
THE GOSPEL KEYNOTES MCA Special Products 13514 At Their Best CD $6.98
10 sides by this fine gospel group recorded for Nashboro in the 60s and 70s for Nashboro featuring the powerful leads of Willie Neal Johnson.

 
PETER GREEN'S FLEETWOOD MAC Silverline 284508 Live At the BBC CD $19.98
2 "DualDisc"s (CD/DVD), 36 tracks, 1 hour 49 min., highly recommended
Long before Bill Clinton used one the their songs as his presidential re-election campaign theme, Fleetwood Mac sang the blues. These live recordings originally hit the BBC airwaves between 1967-71 when the band's lineup consisted (depending on when) of Danny Kirwin, Jeremy Spencer, John McVie, Peter Green, and Mick Fleetwood. As late-1960s British blues-revival bands go, Fleetwood Mac was about as good as it got, which was damn good. But Green left after three LPs for a more Christian life and Spencer split after Kiln House for similar reasons. And then things changed. But these performances mark the glory days before the insane success of their eponymous LP or "Rumours". For whatever reason, Black Magic Woman isn't here, but their instrumental hit (in the UK) Albatross is (in live form, of course) as is the mighty Oh Well, as well as such straight-shooting blues as Believe My Time Ain't Long, Baby Please Set A Date (Elmore James being a big influence),and Mean Mistreatin' Mama. Not accidentally, of the three songs bearing Spencer's name, one sounds like Elvis and the other two are Buddy Holly knock-offs, though pretty good ones. A few of the tracks include guest musician Christine Perfect, a sign of things to come. The DVD sides contain all the tracks in 5.1 surround sound, which is swell, but oddly the extra stuff is the same on both, including as it does, some liner notes and photos and little else. (JC)

 
GUITAR SLIM Classics 5139 The Chronological Guitar Slim, 1951-1954 CD $14.98
The first of two CDs to present the recordings of this great and influential bluesman.

 
GUITAR SLIM Collectables 7700 Atco Sessions CD $12.98
15 tracks, 37 mins, essential
Previously on Atlantic 81760. Guitar Slim was a brilliant and influential singer and guitarist whose career was cut short by his early death at the age of 33. This album presents all the recordings he made for Atco between 1956 and '58 - his last. It includes both sides of his four Atco singles, one track that was only available on a long deleted album and six tracks that have never been issued before in any form. Six tracks were recorded in New Orleans with top New Orleans sidemen and the rest were recorded in New York with excellent bands. Although several of the songs fall into the novelty category there are also some of Slim's distinctive blues ballads which give his gospel flavored vocals and stinging guitar full reign. The unissued sides include a brilliant version of Gatemouth Brown's My Time Is Expensive and two takes of Guitar Slim Boogie, his only recorded instrumental and one which also seems to owe a debt to Gatemouth. Excellent sound, informative notes by Jeff "Almost Slim'" Hannusch and full discographical information. (FS)

 
LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS Classics 5079 The Chronological Lightnin' Hopkins, 1949-1950 CD $14.98
The fourth volume devoted to the great Texas bluesman features 24 sides recorded in 1949 and 1950 for Gold Star - Fast Life Woman/ Zologo (organ Blues)/ Old Woman Blues/ Henny Penny Blues/ Grievance Blues/ Race Track Blues/ Seems Funny Baby/ All I Got Is Gone/ Bad Luck And Trouble, etc.

 
IVORY JOE HUNTER Ace CDCHD 1092 Woo Wee! CD $18.98
Another fine collection of sides drawn from the original King acetates - this one features 26 tracks recorded by Ivory Joe Hunter. It includes his very first postwar recording from 1945 backed by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers which Joe originally issued on his own Ivory label - the masters were acquired by Exclusive and then by King. The remaining titles were recorded for King between 1947 and 1949 featuring Joe with various groups including sessions with members of the Duek Ellington Orch. including a couple with violin from Ray Nance. The music is a mixture of blues, boogie, jump tunes, ballada and pop.

 
BULL MOOSE JACKSON Classics 5156 The Chronological Bull Moose Jackson, 1950-1953 CD $14.98
22 tracks, good
The third volume of Bullmoose's recordings features two risqué classics - Nosey Joe and Big Ten Records as well as a couple of other fine R&B sides like Bootsie and Meet Me With Your Black Dress On but the majority of the sides here are pop ballads - not blues ballads but pop ballads, often with orchestral accompaniment. Most R&B fans will probably find much of this disc tough going, I certainly did but if you want to have it all in chronological order - here it is! (FS)

 
TUTU JONES Doc Blues 6809 Tutu Jones Live CD $14.98
Solid set of live blues from Texas singer/ guitarist Jones accompanied by a small tough band. A few good originals along with covers of songs from Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Johnny Taylor, Elmore James and others. Nothing too original but generally fine singing and playing.

 
B.B. KING Ace CDCHM 1084 The Blues CD $13.98
18 tracks, 49 mins, highly recommended
The latest in this series of reissue of original Crown LPs with bonus cuts features his second LP originally issued in 1958 and features singles drawn from sessions cut between 1951 and 1958 including the hits When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer/ I want To get Married and Troubles, Troubles, Troubles. Bonus cuts include three tracks from his out of contract session for Chess which the Biharis quickly put the lid on before they were issued which was good thing since they are inferior, particularly the appaling Tickle Britches. There's also a great alternate take of Sweet Little Angle and the excellent RPM single I'm In Love which has never been on CD before. Great sound quality and the usual informed noets from John Broven. (FS)

 
EARL KING Sonet 986 926-0 The Sonet Blues Story CD $13.98
10 tracks from this fine New Orleans singer and guitarist recorded in the 70s with a fine small band including Clarence Ford and David Lastie on saxes and Maurice Richard on piano. Most of the songs are remakes of songs he first recorded in the 50s and 60s and includes Let's Make A Better World/ Do Re Mi/ Time For The Sun To Rise/ Baby Sittin'/ The Panic's On, etc.

 
MEADE LUX LEWIS Classics 1401 The Chronological Meade Lux Lewis, 1946-1954 CD $14.98
19 tracks, 70 mins, highly recommended
The fourth collection in Classics' chronological survey of the recordings of this great blues and boogie piano player (complementing Classics 722, 743 & 841). It opens up with four great solo sides from a 1946 Jazz At The Philharmonic concert including a stellar rendition of his theme song Honky Tonk Train Blues. This is followed by a nine track studio session where he is accompanied by bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Frank Williams on a selection of mostly blues and boogie favorites including Jumpin' With pete/ Cow Cow Boogie/ Yancey Special/ Pinetop's Boogie Woogie and, of course, Honky Tonk Train Blues. The final six track studio session from 1954 finds him the company of drummer Louie Bellson and feature a number of tracks that feature a more jazz flavored approach - even the boogie tracks are a bit restrained and exhibit more improvization than on his earlier recordings and show the depth of his piano skills. Sound is excellent - notes are dispensable. (FS)

 

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