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NEWSLETTER #143
Blues & Gospel
Doug MacLeod - > Jimmy Witherspoon

 

 

 
DOUG MACLEOD Black & Tan 026 Where I Been ● CD $16.98
12 tracks, 52 mins, recommended
Renowned modern bluesman Doug Macleod hips us to a new batch of tunes in a world of magic, Hell and turkey-legged women. I'll have to admit that Doug Macleod is an artist that has only been on my radar through scattered appearances on compilations, but I did come out impressed by the depth of his songwriting and the charm of his exceptional guitar work. (JM)

 
JAY MCSHANN Acrobat 126 Kansas City Blues ● CD $9.98
22 tracks, highly recommended
A fine collection featuring the great jazz pianist and bandleader in a blue mood leading small groups and mostly accompanying blues singers like Julia Lee, Jimmy Witherspoon, Numa Lee Davis, Crown Prince Waterford and maxine Reed as well as some bluesy and boogie instrumentals. Session musicians include Tommy Douglas, Walter Page, Eddie Gregory (later Sahib Shibab), Al "Cake" Wichard, Jesse Price, Tiny Webb and others. A complete delight. (FS)

 
MEMPHIS SLIM Candid 79023 Memphis Slim's Tribute To Big Bill Broonzy & Others ● CD $11.98
Back in print. CD issue of LP originally issued in 1961. Slim pays homage to some of the great artists who influenced him or were his contemporaries with a selection of songs and tunes from the repertoire of Big Bill Broonzy, Leroy Carr, Cow Cow Davenport, Curtis Jones and Jazz Gillum. He is joined on guitar and harmonica by Arbee Stidham and Jazz Gillum respectively with Stidham taking two vocals and Gillum one.

 
JAMES NIXON Black Magic 9045 No End To The Blues ● CD $11.98
14 tracks, 54 mins, highly recommended
Now available at a lower price. Fine set of contemporary blues from Nashville singer/ guitarist Nixon with a good band produced by the versatile Fred James who also plays guitar and conga drums on the session. Though Nixon has been around for a while and has recorded singles and a couple of gospel albums but this is his debut album as a solo blues performer. Nixon is a superb singer with an expressive intimate style and plays some fine understated lead guitar. He also wrote or co-wrote all the songs here and they are good ones too. (FS)

 
JACKIE PAYNE & THE STEVE EDMONSON BAND Delta Groove 110 Master Of The Game ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 51 mins, recommended
Although "Master Of The Game" is only the second disc for the dynamic singer, Jackie Payne, and his stirring guitarist Steve Edmonson, both names should be on the radar for many blues listeners as Payne worked with Johnny Otis for over a decade while Edmonson put in a handful of years with The Dynatones. Payne is as solid and convincing as singers come proving easily that he handles blues as well as deep soul or dyed-in-the-wool R&B just as surely as Edmonson's guitar work cuts a wide swath. Whether it's a West Side Chicago edge on Sweet Landlady, the broomdusting boogie of Woman In Kansas City, the slow and gritty Wake Me Up In San Francisco, or Brook Benton's gem I'll Take Care Of You, these partners work seamlessly with a tight rhythm section and driving horns adding great support. Hats off to Delta Groove for going above and beyond the call of duty in keeping our blues alive. (CR)

 
THE PHANTOM BLUES BAND Delta Groove 111 Out Of The Shadows ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 60 mins, excellent
While gaining recognition as a solid backing unit behind Taj Mahal on a number of projects, the Phantom Blues Band combines the talents of guitarist Denny Freeman and sax from Joe Sublett (both Texans with decades of work alone), Larry Fulcher's bass, and Tony Braunagel on drums along with more able assistance from Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), Mike Finnigan (keyboards) and Darrell Leonard (trumpet) with vocals being evenly split between Fulcher, Finnigan, and Schell. Jon Cleary and Taj Mahal (harp on I Only Have Love For You) guest. Leo Nocentelli's Do The Dirt, Lowell Fulson's My Aching Back, Don and Dewey's Big Boy Pete, Chuck Berry's Havana Moon, and Jimmy McCracklin's Think headline the wide cross-section of well-done covers. (CR)

 
OTIS RUSH Blues Express 5 Live ... And In Concert From San Francisco ● CD $14.98
7 tracks, 53 mins, highly recommended
Otis Rush has had his ups and downs over the years and right now his health is so precarious it's unlikely he'll be performing again but this set recorded live in San Francisco in 1999 when he was 65 shows that he still had the fire in his belly. Accompanied by his Chicago band augmented by the Tower Of Power horn section he turns in superb versions of songs from his fairly small repertoire. Even though you've probably heard most of these songs by him elsewhere (I Wonder Why/ It's My Own fault/ I can't Quit You baby/ Got My Mojo Working, etc) they still sound fresh thanks to his aching, yearning vocals and endlessly inventive guitar work. Although I'm not normally a big fan of extended guitar solos Otis is an exception since they are so exquisitly constructed with none of the excess baggage that drags down other artists' work. This live set was also filmed and six of the songs here are also on the DVD "Live, Volume One" (Blues Express 4002 - $23.98). (FS)

 
FRANKIE LEE SIMS AIM 1089 Walking With Frankie ● CD $14.98
14 tracks, 41 mins, recommended
An originally unissued session recorded around 1960 in New York for producer Bobby Robinson by fine Texas singer/guitarist Sims and previously issued on Krazy Kat 7428. These are Sims's last recordings and find him accompanied by a small group - piano, bass & drums - and include several remakes of his Ace and Specialty sides along with songs he had not recorded before including originals and a couple of Lightnin' Hopkins covers. Frankie's singing is, as always, superb - his guitar is powerful and distinctive though his playing is, at times, a bit chaotic. Still a worthwhile addition to Sims' slim discography. (FS)

 
CANDI STATON Shanachie 5761 The Ultimate Gospel Collection ● CD $21.98
Two CD set with 31 tracks mostly covering the period 1983 to 2006 featuring a collection of gospel songs performed by this superb singer who started as a gospel singer then became one of the greatest soul singers of the 60s and 70s before switching back to gospel in the early 80s. Arrangements are very slick and contemporary and may not appeal to many of our customers though Candi's voice is still a wonderful instrument. One intriguing track is a 1955 track by The Jewel Gospel Trio featuring Candi (under her real name Canzetta) in her early teens. Set is packaged in fold out digipack with extensive notes.

 
SUNNYLAND SLIM & HIS PALS JSP JSPCD 7783 The Classic Sides, 1947-1953 ● CD $28.98
Four CD set with 104 tracks featuring classics Chicago blues by Sunnyland Slim and some of the many people he worked with. There are 58 tracks under Slim's own name along with sides by The Fat Man, Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Floyd Jones, Leroy Foster, J.B. lenore, Jimmy Rogers and St. Louis Jimmy.
THE FAT MAN: Glad I Donít Worry No More/ Youíve Got To Stop This Mess/ LEROY FOSTER: Blues Is Killiní Me/ Late Hours At Midnight/ Louella/ Pet Rabbit/ FLOYD JONES: Ainít Times Hard/ Any Old Lonesome Day/ Big World/ Dark Road/ Floydís Blues/ Schooldays On My Mind/ J.B. LENORE: How Can I Leave/ How Much More/ I Have Married/ I Want My Baby/ Iíll Die Tryiní/ Letís Roll/ Louise/ People Are Meddliní In Our Affairs/ Slow Down Woman/ The Mojo/ The Mountain/ Wanna Play A Little While/ ROBERT LOCKWOOD: Dust My Broom/ Dust My Broom/ Glory For Man/ Iím Gonna Dig Myself A Hole/ My Daily Wish/ Pearly B/ JIMMY ROGERS: Iím In Love/ Ludella/ Thatís All Right/ JOHNNY SHINES: Living In The White House/ Please Donít/ ST. LOUIS JIMMY: Chicago Woman Blues/ Hard Work Boogie/ I Sit Up All Night/ Iím Not Satisfied/ Motherís Day/ Nervous Breakdown/ Old Age Has Got Me/ Shame On You Baby/ State Street Blues/ Trying To Change My Ways/ Your Evil Ways/ SUNNYLAND SLIM: (Low Down) Sunnyland Train/ 5 Foot 4 Gal/ Across The Hall Blues/ Ainít Nothing But A Child/ Back To Korea Blues/ Bad Times (Cost Of Living)/ Bassology/ Bassology/ Be Mine Alone/ Be My Baby/ Blue Baby/ Broke And Hungry/ Brown Skin Woman/ Brown Skin Woman/ Brown Skinned Woman/ City Of New Orleans/ Devil Is A Busy Man/ Down Home Child/ Every Time I Get To Drinking/ Farewell Little Girl/ Four Day Bounce/ Gin Drinkiní Baby/ Hard Time (When Motherís Gone)/ Hard Times/ Hit The Road Again/ I Done You Wrong/ I Done You Wrong/ I Want My Baby/ Illinois Central/ Itís All Over Now/ Iím Just A Lonesome Man/ Iíve Done You Wrong/ Jiviní Boogie/ Keep Your Hands Out Of My Money/ Leaving Your Town (No Name Blues)/ Mary Lee/ Mud Kicking Woman/ My Heavy Load/ Nappy Head Woman/ No Whiskey Blues/ Orphan Boy Blues/ Roll, Tumble And Slip (I Cried)/ Sad And Lonesome/ School Days/ Shake It Baby/ Shake It Baby/ Sunnyland Special/ Sweet Lucy Blues/ That Woman/ Train Time (4 OíClock Blues)/ Troubles Of My Own/ Walking With The Blues/ When I Was Young/ When I Was Young (Shake It Baby)/ Woman Trouble (Overnite)/ Worried About My Baby/ Worried About My Baby

 
IKE TURNER Zoho 200611 Risin' With The Blues ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 54 min., good
Ike Turner had enough talent for two men long before he ever met Tina. A career or three later (most often spent in the background), at 75 years of age, an apparently drug-free Ike decided to step into the foreground and sing. He still plays a mean guitar and piano, make no mistake, but his vocal work here displays itself prominantly, and that's not always a good thing. It is nice to know a man can sound this tough and angry at 75, but a little Ike Turner on the mic goes a long way. The instrumentals (Jazzy Fuzzy, Senor Blues, After Hours, Bi Polar) provide a much needed respite and much appreciated guitar work. The songs are a mix of classics and originals. From the former comes Louis Jordan's Caldonia and Fats Domino's Goin' Home Tomorrow; from the latter comes the underwhelming Tease Me and the nearly whimsical Jesus Loves Me, which includes the lines "I'm a bad boy, but Jeus Loves me anyway." No doubt. But then Jesus probably hasn't heard Ike sing. (JC)

 
IKE TURNER & THE KINGS OF RHYTHM Rev-Ola 173 Early Times ● CD $15.98
29 tracks, highly recommended
Until some company has the foresight to compile an in depth box set of Ike Turner we'll have to get the story of this important musician, bandleader and rock 'n' roll pioneer in tantalizing bits and pieces. This fine set features 29 tracks from the early/ mid 50s by Ike and his incredible band The Kings Of Rhythm - all after his big hit Rocket 88 in 1951. Although most of this material is avilable on other compilation there are a number of tracks that are hard to find. Ike is featured playing guitar and piano and has several vocal and instrumental tracks under his own name. The rest features vocals by other members of his band including Billy Gayles, Dennis Binder, Matt Cockrell, Bill "The Kid" Emerson, Jesse Knight, Eugene Fox (including his amazing Sinner's Dream), Johnny Wright (a fabulous reowkr of Things I Used To Do called The World Is Yours with stunning guitar by Ike) and others. Most of this material is available elsewhere but this is a very well chosen selection and some tracks are not readily available. Now, how about that box set? (FS)
DENNIS BINDER: Early Times/ I Miss You So/ Nobody Wants Me/ BROTHER BELL (JOHNNY O'NEAL): Whole Heap of Mama/ MATT COCKRELL: Gypsy Blues/ BILLY "THE KID" EMERSON: If Lovin' Is Believing/ Woodchuck/ EUGENE FOX: Hoo-Doo Say/ I'm Tired of Beggin'/ My Four Women/ Sinner's Dream/ Stay at Home/ BILLY GAYLES: Night Howler/ WILLIE KING (BILLY GAYLES): Peg Leg Baby/ JESSE KNIGHT: Nothing But Money/ CLAYTON LOVE: Why Don't You Believe in Me?/ Wicked Little Baby/ MARY SUE (BONNIE TURNER): Everybody's Talking/ Love Is a Gamble/ JOHNNY O'NEAL: Peg Leg Baby (Aka "Ugly Woman")/ JOHNNY RIGHT: World Is Yours/ BONNIE & IKE TURNER: Looking for My Baby/ IKE TURNER: Cubano Jump (Aka "Hey Miss Tina")/ Go to It (Aka "Stringing Along")/ I'm Lonesome Baby/ Loosely (Aka "The Wild One")/ Love Is Scarce/ Troubles and Heartaches/ You're Driving Me Insane

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Ace CDCHD 1087 More Mellow Cats 'n' Kittens ● CD $18.98
24 Tracks, 65 Minutes, essential
All kinds of fantastic cuts from the Modern & Sensation labels, released between 1946 and 1952. So you get a lot of "Hot" R&B, and "Cool" (jump) Blues, with about two-thirds of the tracks from Southern California/West Coast artists and the rest being from the Detroit Michigan area. This is the second of the series that features a lot of previously unreleased tracks, especially done by artists whose recorded output in a lot of cases wouldn't be enough to fill up a CD of their own. Includes sides by Bardu Ali & His Orch., Kitty Stevenson, Butch Stone & His Orch., Geechie Smith, Tiny Webb, The Three Bits Of Rhythm, Al "Cake" WIchard Sextette and others. As usual Ace does a top-notch production job with outstanding notes and fantastic pictures. This every bit as good, if not better than the first installment, one that I listened to fanatically when it was new. (JM)
BARDU ALI & HIS ORCHESTRA: Bardu's Boogie/ JIMMY GRISSOM & BUDDY FLOYD ORCHESTRA: Just Got Back/ THE HOOTIE MCSHANN TRIO: Going Home Blues/ THE NOCTURNES: Gotta Get Back To Katie/ Lazy Daisy/ BOBBY NUNN & THE ROBBINS: Rockin'/ JAKE PORTER: Sister Kool Breeze/ THE SCAMPS: Goodnight Wherever You Are/ EMMIT SLAY & HIS SLAYRIDERS: Looky Ploot/ GEECHIE SMITH: Daddy Does It Just For You/ KITTY STEVENSON & TODD RHODES TODDLERS: Evening Sun/ How About That Jive/ KITTY STEVENSON: How Long How Long How Long/ Then Comes The Day/ BUTCH STONE & HIS ORCHESTRA: I'm Ok/ Put Your Brakes On Mama/ That's Your Red Wagon/ THE THREE BITS OF RHYTHM: Blow My Top/ Yas Yas Yas/ PEARL TRAYLOR & HOWARD MCGHEE ORCHESTRA: Jive I Like/ UNKNOWN: Don't You Lie To Me/ TINY WEBB: Billboard Special/ AL "CAKE" WICHARD SEXTET: Cake Jumps/ CLARENCE WILLIAMS & HOWARD MCGHEE ORCHESTRA: Bacon Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Empire Musicwerks 450 693-2 The Devil Is A Busy Man ● CD $12.98
20 tracks, 54 mins, highly recommended
As you might guess, these are tunes done on the wicked side of town, although tunes captured here aren't as insidious as have been on similar compilations. A couple of decades after Beelzebub clicks his hoofs along the crossroads, he's back--this time coursing through the electric currents that just boosted the Blues up unknown decibels. Starting with the title track by Sunnyland Slim recorded for the Blue Lake label, then gathering up tracks from mostly the 1940s and 1950s on labels like Blue Lake, Parrot (Blue Lake's parent label), Chart and Marlin labels, this disc features better known artists like St. Louis Jimmy, Harmonica Slim, J.B. Lenoir, Albert King, Earl Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins, along with more obscure bluesmen like Willie Egan, Nature Boy Brown, W.C. Baker and Eddie Hope & His Mannish boys. All in all this is a fantastic comp of early electric blues with great packaging and detailed notes. (JM)
WILLIE BAKER: Goin' Back Home Today/ NATURE BOY BROWN: Blue Blue Boogie/ LITTLE SAMMY DAVIS: Goin' To New Orleans/ WILLIE EGAN: Wear Your Black Dress/ LITTLE WILLIE FOSTER: Four Day Jump/ HENRY GRAY: Watch Yourself/ HARMONICA SLIM: Drop Anchor/ EARL HOOKER: On The Hook/ EDDIE HOPE & THE MANNISH BOYS: Lost Child/ LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS: Walkin' The Streets/ CURTIS JONES: Cool Playing Blues/ ALBERT KING: Bad Luck Blues/ J.B. LENOIR: Mama Talk To Your Daughter/ JOHNNY LEWIS: She's Takin' All My Money/ LITTLE PAPA JOE: Easy Lovin'/ L.C. MCKINLEY: Rosalie Blues/ SNOOKY PRYOR: Crosstown Blues/ ST. LOUIS JIMMY: Murder In The First Degree/ SUNNYLAND SLIM: The Devil Is A Busy Man/ JIMMY WILSON: Alley Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 010 Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal ● CD $19.98
18 tracks, 58 min., highly recommended
In an apparent attempt, so the theory goes, to send the good word out to a younger, "hipper" audience than might ordinarily be found in church, gospel-funk was created in the 1970s. And yet no one went to tell it on any mountain, and as the booklet notes remark, "as a genre, it barely exists." So, few if any, it seems, were out there consciously pumping out the gospel-funk. It just sort of happened when the spirit moved the spiritually inclined fans of Funkadelic and the like. This Numero Group release is another reason to believe that small labels will save the world. A precious handful of completely obscure artists (many releasing only one career 45 rpm) hereby makes the case for the genre, such as it is. The most persuasive arguments come from Voices Of Conquest (O Yes My Lord), Horace Family (God Will Dry My Weeping Eyes), and Triumphs (We Don't Love Enough). Funky influencers include James Brown (of course), Parliament, The Meters, among others. Holier forefathers run from the massively popular Al Green, to the somewhat lesser known Brother Joe May. But as surely as Cliff Gober (A Poor Wayfaring Stranger) knew May, he knew Bobby Blue Bland's Duke recordings. Track dates range from 1968-81, with most dates falling into the 1970s. If the spirit doesn't move you, your body will. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Wolf 120.105 The Best Of Harmonica Blues ● CD $16.98
A varied collection ranging from the 40s through the 80s - Little Mac Simmons, Walter Horton, James Cotton, Carey Bell, Oscar harp, Doc Terry, Jazz Gillum, Jerry McCain, george Harmonica Smith, CeDell davis, etc.
HERMANN ALEXANDER: Baby Please Don't Go/ CAREY BELL: One Day/ BILLY BRANCH: Everything Gonna Be Alright/ JAMES COTTON: Dealin' With The Devil/ CEDELL DAVIS: When I Woke Up Last Morning/ LITTLE ARTHUR DUNCAN: Kansas City/ JAZZ GILLUM: I'm Still Walking The Hi-way/ OSCAR HARP: Caress Me Baby/ WALTER 'SHAKEY' HORTON: Hard Hearted Woman/ MARTIN LANG: Martin Leaps In/ JERRY MCCAIN: It Most Be Love/ J. MONOUED'D: Rice And Gravy Fever/ SNOOKY PRYOR: It Seem Like A Dream/ LITTLE MAC SIMMONS: You Mistreated Me Baby/ GEORGE 'HARMONICA' SMITH: I Don't Know/ DOC TERRY: Born In The Delta/ SONNY TERRY: Goin' Down Slow/ KID THOMAS: Rockin' This Joint Tonight/ SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON: Blue Bird Blues

 
MUDDY WATERS Acrobat MCD 4212 Jukebox Hits 1948 - 1954 ● CD $13.98
20 tracks. Just as the title suggests, you get a Muddy Waters greatest hits from 1948 - 1954 that were blowing up the jukeboxes of America. So many great tunes, All Night Long/ Mad Love/ Long Distance Call /She's So Pretty etc., all of the fabulous post war blues from the master, that was depriving fans of their pocket change and inspiring who knows how many other artists.

 
MUDDY WATERS Proper BOX 102 King Of Chicago Blues ● CD $24.98
4 CDs, 97 tracks, 280 mins, highly recommended
The UK-based Proper label has done another fine job on this budget-priced 4-CD box set of a nice variety of material Muddy Waters recorded between 1941 and 1955. Disc one's 22 cuts are made up of a baker's dozen from Stovall's Plantation in 1941/42 for the Library Of Congress, his Chicago debut - as James "Sweet Lucy" Carter - on Mean Red Spider, plus Muddy's 1946 recordings behind Homer Harris and James "Beale Street" Clark as well as the Columbia sides Jitterbug Blues/ Hard Day Blues, and Burying Ground Blues. Disc two pulls together 24 tracks recorded between 1947 and 1950 originally issued on the Aristocrat imprint, while discs three and four deliver 51 sides that found their home on the Chess label spanning six years from early 1950 to late 1955. While much of this material is available elsewhere, it's good to see some oddball titles that don't show up on every Muddy Waters compilation that comes down the pike; Howling Wolf/ My Fault/ Flood/ My Life Is Ruined/ Sad Sad Day/ Loving Man/ She's So Pretty/ Smokestack Lightning/ I Don't Know Why/ This Pain/ I Got To Find My Baby/ Clouds In My Heart, and much more. Sound quality is solid all the way through, although maybe not quite as good as the MCA/Universal issues of Muddy's work, but it's a great value with nice packaging and a booklet that includes lengthy liner notes, session details, and a fine assortment of vintage photos of this Chicago Blues giant. (CR)

 
SMOKEY WILSON Ace CDCHD 1123 Round Like An Apple - The Big Town Recordings, 1977-78 ● CD $18.98
17 tracks, 78 mins, recommended
Mississippi born, Los Angeles based bluesman Smokey Wilson was probably the last bluesman to be recorded by the famed Bihari Brothers of Modern Records fame. They issued two albums on their Big Town label in 1977 and '78 and recorded enough for a third and this set draws from both issued albums and his unissued sessions and features a solid set of no nonsense blues. Smokey has a tough aggressive approach in singing with a voice obviously inspired by Howling Wolf and Elmore James. He is also a solid, if not neceassrily, original guitarist. He is accompanied by small band of, mostly unknown, local musicians on guitar, bass, drums and piano plus, on some tracks, harmonica player Rod Piazza. His material is a mix or original (usually based around traditional themes) along with songs from the repertoire of Wolf, Elmore, Roy Brown, Johny Copeland and others. Arrangements range from stright blues to a more rock oriented approach. Nothing sensational here but definitely wortha listen or two. Usual high quality Acve production.

 

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