Blues & Gospel - Newsletter 145 - Ricky Allen -> Johnny Moore's Three Blazers + DVDS
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NEWSLETTER #145
Blues & Gospel
Ricky Allen ->
Johnny Moore's Three Blazers + DVDS
 

 

 

NEW DVDs

 
MEL BROWN Electro-Fi DVD 3395 The DVD - Talkin' Blues ● DVD $18.98
DVD, 105 min., highly recommended
Not an independent documentary, since it was produced by Brown's current record label, but a true documentary (as opposed to various concert footage cobbled together) nonetheless. Mel Brown may be best known for not being best known, for playing behind bigger names. His vast recording credits on guitar and piano include work with Nancy Wilson, Lightning Hopkins, Bobby Darin, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Sonny & Cher, Etta James, Bill Cosby, T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, and Waylon Jennings, to name but a very few. As a session musician in Los Angeles during the 1960s, Brown found himself in constant demand, and eventually ABC Records signed him to a six LP contract. He also helped pioneer the outlaw country music movement, winding up in Tompaul Glazer's Outlaw band. More recently, he has been recording with his band The Homewreckers for Electro-Fi and received the W.C. Handy Award for "Comeback Blues Album Of The Year," although Brown, who has lived and breathed music since he was old enough to do either, seems a little annoyed, not just at the thought that he should be recognized for coming back when he never left, but for winning an award for something that is as much a part of him as his arm. The documentary makers ask all the usual questions during the lengthy (though never boring) interviews, and Brown never once gives them a canned answer. He comes across as a gentle, thoughtful musician blessed with incredible talents that he himself would never think to boast of. Thus he occupies that most unusual of positions, humble blues man. After much prodding, Brown speaks of race in America, on his solo career, on the blues in general, on his future. Emphysema currently slows him down some, but he is guardedly optimistic about improving his condition, an attitude that seems to have pervaded his career and life. His immediate plans include a lot of golf. Clips of Brown in recording sessions from recent albums (as well as alternate takes) are included, but the treat here is Mel Brown himself. (JC)

 
JIMMY BURNS Delmark DVD 1789 Live At B.L.U.E.S. ● DVD $22.98
DVD (NTSC region free coding), 14 tracks, 80 min., recommended
Delmark captures the brother of bluesman Eddie Burns on this DVD version of Jimmy's live album of the same title and throws in two bonus tracks (Mean Mistreating Mama, and Don't Be Late. Recorded in the famed Chicago B.L.U.E.S. club, the camera occasionally pans to shots of people (mostly white) eating corn or dancing, but mostly stays on stage with Burns. But the camera shots (most of which are waist up) feel a bit cramped, indicating a packed house or a tiny stage or both--the price of an intimate setting. Burns guitarist, Tony Palmer, tears it up frequently, with a fierce attack that nicely balances Burns' own sweeter approach. Count the opening Leaving Here Walking and a cover of Whole Lot Of Lovin' among the highlights. The multitalented (sings, plays guitar and harmonica) Burns gives a fine performance and makes some of the longer songs on the CD feel short. (JC)

 
CANNED HEAT Eagle Eye 39142 Live At Montreux 1973/ The Canned Heat Story ● DVD $18.98
Two DVD set, 10 tracks, 73 Mins + 140 mins, highly recommended
1973 was just past the creative peak for the band Canned Heat, a couple of years past the demise of Singer/ Songwriter/ Guitarist / Harmonica Player/ Spiritual Leader of the band Alan Wilson. The desolation of the 1970's was starting to seep in, but The Heat weren't gonna go out without a fight. This appearance at the 1973 Montreax festival is packed full of bad-ass Blues jams and bucolic, barbiturate Boogie. This particular line up features classic era singer Bob "The Bear" Hite on vocals, long time on again/ off again guitarist Henry Vestine and franchise drummer Fito De La Parra, along with Bob's brother Richard on bass, Ed Beyer on keyboards and piano, James Shane on guitar and vocal and special appearance by Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The real joy of this set comes in the second disk: an extensive, detailed history of the band anchored by recollections from drummer Fito, sometimes-Bass player over the last 40 years Larry Taylor, and band classic era manager/ co-conspirator Skip Taylor. Chock full of rare footage and great stories from the entire length of Heat's career, I can't imagine any fan of Canned Heat not enjoying this and with it clocking in at a whopping 2 hours and 19 mins, it sure gives you the bang for the buck. (JM)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Hip-O 0853-9 American Folk Blues Festival,The British Tours, 1963-66 ● DVD $14.98
18 tracks, essential
The fourth installment of this incredible series featuring live performances from tours made to Europe in the 60s and 70s by some of America's greatest blues artists features footage filmed in England in 1963, 1964 and 1966 and is another winner. I was still living in England and got to see the 1963, 1964 & '65 tours (the latter not represented here) and can testify that this was a life changing experience and was, to a great extent, the reason I decided to come to the USA so I could experience more of this incredible music. The first 12 performances are from the Lippman and Rau tours and the last four are from the 1964 American Folk Blues & Gospel Caravan. Muddy Waters is featured in 1963 with a small band including his right hand man Otis Spann on piano and Matt "Guitar" Murphy on guitar and in 1964 he does two fine numbers accompanied by Cousin Joe Pleasant on piano plus bass and drums. Sonny Boy Williamson shows why he is of the all time great harmonica on three different numbers including playing part of Bye Bye Bird by blowing through his nose! Lonnie Johnson shows his mastery of the blues ballad with his sublime Too Late To Cry with some gorgeous guitar playing. Country blues is represented by Big Joe Williams and Lightnin' Hopkins who both turn in stellar performances. Howlin' Wolf is as exciting as one might expect on his two numbers and the little known Sugar Pie DeSanto turns in two dynamic performances. A little while later I got to see her perform in a small London club and she tore up the joint. Not enough for you? Then how about Big Joe Turner, Junior Wells and Sister Rosetta Tharpe? And let us not forget some of the backing musicians like Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, Fred Below, Little Brother Montgomery and more. Incredible music from artists who were still in their prime and didn't find it necesarry to play down to their audience. Booklet has notes by Mike Rowe, an old friend who was also instrumental in my blues upbringing playing me all kinds of great and rare 78s by performers I'd never heard of before. Whether you're geezer like me who has fond memories of these shows or are new to the music you can't help but me moved by these dazzling performances. (FS)

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
RICKY ALLEN Official 60102 Remember The Time ● CD $21.98
31 tracks, highly recommended
We have a few copies of this limited edition European CD featuring 31 tracks recorded in the 60s by this excellent and, undeservedly obscure, soul blues singer from Chicago. Allen was a fine and expressive singer and had a strong following in Chicago though he only had one national R&B hit with the fine Mel London composition Cut You A-Loose - a song that has subsequently become a Chicago blues standard and been recorded by Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Luther Allison and others. Allen was accompanied by top Chicago musicians like Earl Hooker, Reggie Boyd, Abb Locke, A.C. Reed, Lafayette Leake, Sonny Lantz and others. What Do You DO from 1966 features some fine harp from Junior Wells. Sound quality, presumably dubbed from 45s, is satisfactory and the booklet includes a biography of Ricky. (FS)
RICKY ALLEN: Can I come back home/ Catch up with your Crowd/ Cut you a-loose/ Early in the Morning/ Eighty Hour week/ Faith/ From you/ Going or coming/ Heart breaking/ Help me Mama/ Hurt look on my Face/ I ain't never/ I can't stand no signifying/ I don't get it/ I have made a change/ I wanna hear from you/ I'm a real thankful Man/ It's Love Baby/ It's a Mess I tell you/ Just you and me/ Little by Little/ Messed around and fell in Love/ Nothing in the World can hurt me/ Ouch!/ Remember the Time/ Skate Boo-Ga-Loo/ Step down/ The big Fight/ What do you do/ You were my Teacher/ You'd better be sure

 
LES AMIS CREOLE Arhoolie 529 Les Amis Creole ● CD $12.98
18 tracks, very highly recommended
Superb collection of the kind of music African Americans were playing in Louisiana & Texas which led to the development of Zydeco. But these are not old recordings but new recordings by a superb trio featuring two musicians in their 50s - Edward Polluard on vocals, accordion and fiddle and James Adams on guitar plus the amazing 21 year old fiddler and vocalist Cedric Watson. The group perform a selection of traditional Creole songs and tunes along with tunes from the repertoire of Cajun and Creole musicians like Canray Fontenot, Dennis Mcghee, Amede Ardoin, Dewey Balfa and others. The singing and playing is stunning throughout with stunning ensemble work and three electrifying fiddle duets. Gorgeous music. (FS)

 
ERIC BIBB Telarc 83660 Diamond Days ● CD $18.98
12 tracks, 49 minutes, excellent
It's widely accepted that the traditional blues camp wants its music categorized for easy access but artists the likes of Eric Bibb make that virtually impossible. Sure, Bibb is blues-influenced, but a bluesman? The jury still seems to be in a heated debate over that issue. There's no question his guitar skills are instantly admirable - the cover of Dylan's Buckets Of Rain proves that in spades if the driving In My Father's House doesn't - and as a songwriter Eric moved ahead by leaps and bounds. If musical diversity is what you're after, "Diamond Days" could be just what the doctor ordered, but if you're looking for a solid and defined blues outing, this may rattle the cage a little too often. (CR)

 
BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND Geffen 08161-02 The Definitive Collection ● CD $13.98
It would take more than one CD to be a "definitive" Bobby "Blue" Bland collection but with so much of his classic material out of print this is the best single compilation currently available. 22 tracks recorded for Duke and ABC between 1957 and 1976 - most of them top 10 R&B hits including his three #1 hits Farther Up The Road/ I Pity The Fool and That's The Way Love Is. Also includes I Smell Trouble/ Little Boy Blue/ Cry Cry Cry/ Who Will The Next Fool Be?/ Yield Not To Temptation/ Ain't Nothing You Can Do/ Poverty and more including his duet with B.B. King on Let The Good Times Roll.

 
EDDIE BOYD Love 25 Praise To Helsinki ● CD $19.98
The great Chicago bluesman recorded in Finland in 1970 singing and playing piano and organ accompanied by a fine rhythm section. Eddie is in excellent form on a selection of all new songs though based on standard blues themes. The title song is a heartfelt tribute to the capital city of a country he made his home for the latter years of his life. Very worthwhile.

 
CHARLES BROWN Rev-Ola CRBAND 13 Groovy ● CD $15.98
A bit of a different Charles Brown album. Though Charles is best known for his mournful blues ballad stylings, which were his biggest hits, this collection focuses on his up-tempo recordings which were also a substantial part of his repertoire. 30 tracks recorded between 1945 and 1956. The earliest sides were by Charles as a member of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers with Charles' fine vocals and piano accompanied by the superb guitar of Johnny Moore and the bass of Eddie Williams. In 1948 he left the group to pursue a solo career and Williams joined him for a while. His first solo sides were in the familiar trio format but as the 50s approached a sax and drummer were added and the last session here from 1956 finds him in New Orleans recordings with top NOLA musicians like Lee Allen, "Red" Tyler, Justin Adams, Frank Fields and Earl Palmer. Includes It Ain't Gonna Be Like That/ Groovy/ Jukebox Lil/ Don't get Salty Sugar/ So There/ Alley Batting/ I Want To Fool Around With You/ Walk With Me/ Knock Me A Kiss/ There Is No Greater Love and more.

 
CEPHAS & WIGGINS Alligator 4910 Shoulder To Shoulder ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 40 minutes, very good
While it's impossible to neglect their diversity and longevity, Cephas & Wiggins have managed to make the blues form as accesible to the masses as Home Depot has building projects to every man and woman across the country. That's not meant as pure sarcasm because Alligator itself doesn't escape that criticism, but it does explain the downfall of Shoulder To Shoulder[ When Sleepy John Estes' Broke And Hungry, Charley Patton's Dirt Road, and Blind Boy Fuller's Three Ball Blues are buffed and polished to a high-gloss sheen, something seems to be missing. John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins are enjoyable enough, but blues is at its best when the earthy roughness of the music remains intact, and that isn't quite apparent here. (CR)

 
ROBERT CRAY Hip-O 06779-02 The Definitive Collection ● CD $11.98
16 tracks, 67 minutes, recommended
Considering Robert Cray's recording career has now spanned a quarter-century and numerous efforts, a single-disc, 16-track collection might not equate to being 'definitive' but it does get the job done as a well-chosen overview. With powerful blues in the form of Phone Booth or Playin' In The Dirt to his unbeatable blend of blues, soul and R&B for Bad Influence, I Guess I Showed Her, Right Next Door, Forecast (Calls For Pain) and plenty more, what's not to like? Lots of staccato guitar (with influences ranging from Johnny "Guitar" Watson to Wes Montgomery) and rich, soulful vocals out front from 'young Bob and a thumping band riding loose-yet-tight behind, Robert Cray continues to be one of the finer artists on the scene. The past twenty-five years have sure flown by.(CR)

 
THE ROBERT CRAY BAND Nozzle 79815 Live From Across The Pond ● CD $18.98
Two CD set featuring live performances at London's famed Royal Albert Hall in 2006. The songs are drawn from throughout his 27 year recording career including Phone Booth/ Right Next Door (Because Of Me)/ I Guess I Showed Her/ I Was Warned/ Bad Influence/ Back Door Slam and others including his commentary on the Iraq war twenty.

 
MONTE EASTER Blue Moon 6053 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1: 1945-1951 ● CD $17.98
19 tracks, 50 mins, highly recommended
First of two volumes to present the complete recordings of the undeservedly obscure singer and trumpet player Monte Easter. Originally from Coffeyville, Kansas, Monte started playing in the 1920s and in 1930 moved to Los Angeles where he worked with several bands until forming his own group in 1945. The tracks here are from three sessions held between 1945 and 1951 with solid bands featuring Easter's sterling trumpet work alongside alto saxist Earl Simms and tenor saxist Hubert Allen on most of the tracks. The second session from 1946 has a different line up with Maxwell Davis on tenor and superb boogie pianist Rosetta Andrews. Easter is an excellent vocalist with a pleasing husky style and shares the vocal limelight with fine female vocalist Mary De Pina (aka Mary Wallace). Except for a couple of drab ballads the music is tough urban blues and jumping R&B with a few nods to the great Louis Jordan. Superb sound and informative notes by Opal Louis Nations. (FS)

 
MONTE EASTER Blue Moon 6054 The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2: 1952-1960 ● CD $17.98
17 tracks, 45 mins, highly recommended
Moving into the 50s Monte's band acquired a tougher more contemporary sound helped along by the addition of the fantastic guitarist Jimmy Nolen whose brilliant fretwork is featured prominently on many of the cuts here as well taking vocals on two numbers. Monte is only featured as vocalist on two cuts and there are a couple of vocals by the superb Jessie Mae Robinson and most of the rest is hard driving instrumentals. Only two tunes were recorded at the 1960 session and there are three takes of one and two of the other but these alternatives are quite different with great horn work and tremendous guitar from Nolen. On the three takes of Weekend Blues Nolen's playing gets more exciting with each take. Easter subsequently retired from the music business and Nolen went on to work with Johnny Otis and in 1965 joined the James Brown band became one of architects of Brown's distinctive instrumental sound. (FS)

 
THE FIVE BLIND BOYS OF MISSISSIPPI Shout 34 Something To Shout About ... From The Golden Age Of Gospel ● CD $17.98
Two classic albums ("Precious Memories" and "Father I Stretch My Hands To Thee") by one of the greatest of all gospel groups combined on this CD featuring 23 great sides recorded between 1950 and 1964 - half of them with the incredible lead vocals of Archie Brownlee. A handful of cuts are duplicated on the recent Acrobat reissue but much of the material here is appearing on CD for the first time.

 
FRANK FROST & SAM CARR Blue Label 49732 Last Of The Jelly Roll Kings ● CD $16.98
15 tracks, 57 mins, recommended
Fine set of Mississippi down home blues from these two veterans featuring previously unissued recordings from 1993 and 1998. The first 10 sides are from the same session as produced their 1998 HMG album and the duo, accompanied by the funky guitar of Fred James turn in a fine set of performances with powerful vocals and great harp from Frost. The remaining tracks, also fine, were recorded live at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in 1993 where they are joined by bassist Bob Kommersmith. Nothing fancy here just solid down home blues of high quality. (FS)

 
OTIS GRAND Bliss Street 002 Hipster Blues ● CD $25.98
14 tracks, 68 minutes, recommended
Otis Grand's newest continues a trend set with previous discs finding the guitarist in the company of Curtis Salgado, Sugar Ray Norcia and others for vocals, while the core band consists of bass, drums, and keyboards (a few with Mudcat Ward, Anthony Geraci, and Neil Gouvin). What's different here is the stunning choice of material. There's no shortage of straight-ahead blues flexing; Never Raise My Hand, Satan's Blues and the over-too-quickly storm of Sad Blues - for Peter Green. But it's nice to hear Otis tackle Freddy King's Overdrive, The Farina Brothers' Sleepwalkthe Memphis-like grease of Slo-Mo-Shun (a bubbling Grand original complete with party girls), and Hipster Blues No. 5, a slice of jazzy lounge exotica. Grand has just delivered his smartest disc with plenty of smoldering guitar, tasty horns, some deliciously cheesy organ and sidemen that push hard.  (CR)

 
GUITAR GABRIEL & THE BROTHERS Music Maker 001 IN THE KITCHEN : Toot Blues ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 33 mins, very good
Previously unissued recordings from 1991 by this idiosyncratic country bluesman. The Brothers In the Kitchen appear to consist of Timothy Duffy on occasional guitar and Captain Luke on occasional vocal. Gabriel's vocals are fine though his guitar playing is a bit erratic. In addition to his own songs this set includes a couple of gospel songs and versions of blues standards Just A Little Bit and Careless Love. Best tracks are Landlord Blues and the particularly fine She's Been Gone Too Long. (FS)

 
GUITAR SHORTY Alligator 4911 We The People ● CD $15.98
Tough album of high energy electric blues from 67 year old blues veteran featuring powerful vocals and searing electric guitar licks. A number of the songs are originals including the typical title song. Other songs including I Got Your Number/ Down That Road Again/ Can't Get Enough/ Who Needs It/ Cost Of Livin', etc.

 
PEPPERMINT HARRIS AIM 1301 Texas On My Mind ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, recommended
12 tracks of undetermined origin by Texas vocalist who's career dates back to the 40s. Several cuts are from a pleasing acoustic session cut in 1994 and most of the rest are probably from the 70s with Harris accompanied by a good small band including, the then topical, Presidents Lawyer. There are also a couple of nice tracks from a 1964 demo session where he is only accompanied by pianist Honeymoon and the set is rounded out with his fine 1955 Cash recording of Cadillac Funeral. A varied collection - some good, some not so good but worth a listen. (FS)

 
LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS Vanguard 79715 Live At Newport ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 41 mins, highly recommended
Not a new release but not listed before. The King Of Texas Blues in great form recorded live at 1965's Newport Jazz Festival and mostly previously unissued. Lightnin's vocals are powerful and he plays the funkiest electric guitar with those trademark lines that never fail to send a chill down my spine. It's mostly familiar Lightnin' material (Baby Please Don't Go/ Mojo hand/ Trouble In Mind/ Where Can I Find My Baby, etc.) but in Lightnin's case it never sounds stale or tired. There are also a couple of songs not recorded elsewhere including the gorgeous 8 minute slow blues Cotton Patch Blues. Lightnin' is in great spirits with his comments between songs and during the songs. The man was one of the greatest blues arists of all time so any chance to hear a mostly previously unissued set by him is always a sheer delight. (FS)

 
LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS & OTHERS JSP JSPCD 7790 Lightnin' Special ● CD $28.98
4 CDs, 106 tracks, highly recommended
After the essential Volume 1 (JSP 7705 - $28.98) the story continues with Lightnin's work for Mercury, Decca, Herald, TNT and Chart between 1951-56. Lightnin' accounts for the first two CDs here, providing a mixture of evocative slow blues - the guitar a second voice, filling out the lyrics - and rocking boogies full of over-amped excitement. Neal Slaven, who provides the excellent booklet notes, highlights Lightnin's sides for TNT on the second disc as among his best work from any period, and listening to tracks like Late In The Evening you know he is right. On the closing tracks of disc two drummer L.C. Williams takes over vocal duties, and sounds like Lightnin' with a heavy cold. Hopkins provides some memorable piano for Williams on Trying, Trying, while elsewhere it is his guitar accompaniments that shine. The third disc opens with the first twelve recordings by Lil' Son Jackson whose slightly soft, confiding voice and strongly rhythmical guitar style was deservedly popular in its day. Jackson subsequently made recordings with backing bands, but here he is alone and the better for it. Manny Smith who follows was a less polished, but still competent performer whose only session has a similar feel to a prison field recording. The disc closes with three of Lightnin's first recordings with Thunder Smith which were missing from Volume 1, and another three where Smith was accompanied by guitarist Luther Stoneham. Smith was a good pianist but despite Lightnin' offering some deft Scrapper Blackwell like touches as on West Coast Blues the performances are rather spoiled by Smith's rough, nasal vocals. I first heard the superb Western Rider Blues by Soldier Boy Houston on an old Melodeon LP. The sleeve notes said "This seems to be the only recording by the Texas singer.... who was killed in the Korean war." The anonymous writer was wrong on both counts. Recent research has filled in some details of Soldier Boy's life, and on the fourth disc we have the whole of his great first session reissued for the first time. Several of these sides have strongly autobiographical lyrics and it is fascinating to have this blues cipher spring to life. In contrast to the bouncy rhythms and light tenor voice of Mr Houston, two of the other singer guitarists on the final disc, J.D. Edwards and Frankie Lee Sims, have a more urban sound, J.D. in particular being a strong and expansive singer. The most interesting though is Ernest Lewis, whose Rosa Lee with its attenuated vocal lines and Shake 'Em On Down are among the highlights of the set. On Little Mae Belle Lewis plays some of the guitar figures of influential Texan Funny Papa Smith, but courts disaster when a harmonica player joins him on No More Lovin'. This unrehearsed /improvised quality is also a feature of a few of the band sides, but the overall standard is very good. Many of these tracks have of course been issued several times before, notably on the excellent box set "Down Home Blues Classics - Texas 1946-1954" (Boulevard Vintage 1012 - $24.98) which duplicates 31 tracks here. (A further seven tracks appear on Boulevard Vintage 4003 - now deleted). Despite such duplications JSP's combination of very good sound, well compiled material and a very satisfying format has much to offer. (DPR)
J.D. EDWARDS: Cold In The Evening/ Cryin'/ Hobo/ Playboy Blues/ West Coast Blues/ LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS: Ain't It A Shame/ Bad Things On My Mind/ Blues For My Cookie/ Cemetery Blues/ Crazy ‘Bout My Baby/ Don't Need No Job/ Don't Think ‘Cause You're Pretty/ Early Mornin' Boogie/ Evil Hearted Woman/ Finally Met My Baby/ Grandma's Boogie/ Had A Gal Called Sal/ Happy New Year/ Highway Blues/ Hopkins Sky Hop/ I Love You Baby/ I'm Wild About You Baby/ Late In The Evening/ Leavin' Blues/ Life I Used To Live/ Lightnin' Jump/ Lightnin's Boogie/ Lightnin's Special/ Lonesome In Your Home/ Mad As I Can Be/ Merry Christmas/ Moanin' Blues/ Moving On Out Boogie/ Mussy Haired Woman/ My Baby's Gone/ My Little Kewpie Doll/ My Mama Told Me/ Nothin' But The Blues/ Please Don't Go Baby/ Policy Game/ Remember Me/ Shine On Moon/ Sick Feeling Blues/ Sittin' Down Thinkin'/ That's Alright Baby/ The War Is Over/ They Wonder Who I Am/ Walkin' The Streets/ What Kind Of Heart Have You/ What's The Matter Now/ Wonder What Is Wrong With Me/ SOLDIER BOY HOUSTON: Dallas Bebop Blues/ Going To The West Coast/ Hug Me Baby/ In The Army Since 1941/ Lawton, Oklahoma Blues/ Lawyer Houston Blues/ Out In California Blues/ Western Rider Blues/ LIL' SON JACKSON: Bad Whiskey - Bad Women/ Cairo Blues/ Evil Blues/ Freedom Train Blues/ Gambling Blues/ Gone With The Wind/ Ground Hog Blues/ Homeless Blues/ Milford Blues/ No Money, No Love/ Roberta Blues/ Talkin' Boogie/ ERNEST LEWIS: In My Girlish Days/ Little Mae Belle/ Loudella/ No More Lovin'/ Rosa Lee/ Shake ‘Em On Down/ West Coast Blues/ What Wrong Have I Done/ MANNY NICHOLS: Forgive Me/ Forgive Me Baby/ No One To Love Me/ Tall Skinny Mama Blues/ Throw A Little Boogie/ Walkin' Blues/ Walking Talking Blues/ Worried Life/ FRANKIE LEE SIMS: Cross Country Blues/ Don't Forget Me Baby/ Home Again Blues/ Single Man Blues/ THUNDER SMITH: Big Stars Are Falling/ Can't Do Like You Used To/ Cruel Hearted Woman/ Little Mama Boogiea/ Santa Fe Blues/ West Coast Blues/ L .C. WILLIAMS: Boogie All The Time/ Fannie Mae/ Hole In The Wall/ So Sorry/ Strike Blues/ The Lazy J/ Trying, Trying/ You Can't Take It With You Baby/ You'll Never Miss The Water

 
HOWLIN' WOLF Spectrum 983 501-2 The Howlin' Wolf Anthology ● CD $17.98
Two CDs, 48 tracks, highly recommended
Fine two CD retrospective of Chess recordings by this great bluesman. Unlike other compilations this leaves out his earlier recordings from 1951 through 1955 and starts with his classic Smokestack Lightnin' from 1956 and ends with The Back Door Wolf from his last Chess session in 1973. This means we get a chance to hear his infrequently reissued mid/ late 50s recordings like You Can't Be Beat/ So Glad/ My Life/ Nature/ Poor Boy and others plus a whole heap of his late 50s and 60s recordings which featured some of Hubert Sumlin's most spectacular guitar work on songs like Spoonful/ Wang-Dang-Doodle/ Shake For Me/ Goin' Down Slow/ Do The Do/ Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy/ Tail Dragger/ LOve Me Darlin', etc. Most of the songs from this period were written by Willie Dixon and are often pretty dumb but Wolf's singing and Hubert's guitar playing make them indispensible. (FS)
HOWLIN' WOLF: Back Door Man/ Back Door Wolf/ Built For Comfort/ Change My Way/ Coon On The Moon/ Do The Do/ Down In The Bottom/ Goin' Down Slow/ Going Back Home/ Hidden Charms/ Howlin' Blues/ Howlin' For My Darlin'/ I Ain't Superstitious/ I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)/ I Better Go Now/ I Didn't Know/ I'm Leaving You/ I've Been Abused/ Just Like I Treat You/ Killing Floor/ Little Baby/ Louise/ Love Me Darlin'/ Mama's Baby/ Moanin' For My Baby/ Mr Airplane Man/ My Country Sugar Mama/ My Life/ Natchez Burnin'/ Nature/ Ooh Baby (Hold Me)/ Poor Boy/ Red Rooster/ Shake For Me/ Sitting On Top Of The World/ Smokestack Lightnin'/ So Glad/ Somebody In My Home/ Spoonful/ Tail Dragger/ Tell Me/ Tell Me What I've Done/ Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy/ Wang Dang Doodle/ Who's Been Talking/ You Can't Be Beat/ You Gonna Wreck My Life/ You'll Be Mine

 
BUDDY & ELLA JOHNSON Rev-Ola CRBAND 6 Gotta Go Upside Your Head ● CD $15.98
28 tracks, 78 mins, highly recommended
The Buddy Johnson Orch. was one of the few important swing bands to carry the Basie sound over into R&B, and his sister Ella was certainly a major singing talent.This brass-blasting set of jump juice and sultry ballads recorded between 1953 and 1955 is a must. Ella lights up on That's How I Feel About You/ Aintcha Got Me/ One More Time/ Well Do It and others. There are also a couple of vocals by Buddy himself, a couple of novelty numbers from Ricky Harper and some barn storming instrumentals. Excellent sound and fine notes from usual Rev-Ola scribe Dave Penny. (FS/ OLN)
BUDDY & ELLA JOHNSON: A 12/ Ain't But One/ Aint'cha Got Me (Where You Want Me)/ Alright Ok You Win/ Any Day Now/ Bring It Home To Me/ Crazy 'Bout A Saxophone/ Doot Doot Dow/ Gone Walkin'/ Gotta Go Upside Your Head/ Hittin' On Me/ I Don't Want Nobody (To Have My Love But You)/ I'm Just Your Fool/ If You Would Only Say You're Sorry/ It Used To Hurt Me/ It's About To Break My Heart In Two/ It's Obdacious/ Jit Jit/ Mush Mouth/ My Old Man/ One More Time/ Pretty Girl (A Cadillac And Some Money)/ Shut Your Big Mouth Girl/ So Good/ Someday/ That's How I Feel About You/ Thinking It Over/ Well Do It

 
JOHNNY JONES Blue Label 95862 Can I Get An Amen? ● CD $16.98
10 tracks, 53 min., recommended
Jones sports a blues guitar history few can match these days, having played with Junior Walker and Freddie King in the early days of his career. He became a member of the Champion Records house band (the Jimmy Beck Band) and recorded on many a Sound Stage 7 and Excello session, toured with Earl Gaines, and Bobby "Blue" Bland. He eventually formed his own band, The King Casuals, and when he left his spot was filled by a young Jimi Hendrix, who learned more than a little about guitar playing from Jones. In 1998, the Dutch label Black Magic released a Johnny Jones album accurately titled "I Was Raised On The Blues," and a European tour followed. This album (recorded at The Muhle Hunziken, Bern Switzerland) comes from that tour, finds Jones with incredible energy and a sensitive and lyrical touch on his six strings. No mindless noodling here, just taut, economical blues guitar played with feeling. Jones' guitarist, Fred James, contributed original songs (including the fine title cut), sings background, produced and edited the album and wrote the booklet notes. No word on who made the coffee. (JC)

 
DAVID KIMBROUGH JR. B.C. Records 1435 Shell Shocked ● CD $15.98
9 tracks, 69 min., recommended
Kimbrough's first album after being released from Parchman Prison in Mississippi (after doing time for a drug conviction) follows his father's lead (literally and figuratively). The easy going sweet groove of Come Into My W0rld, the album opener, is a pleasing bit of deceptive insomuch as Kimbrough generally occupies the hypnotic blues figures his father (he was one of Junior Kimbrough's 36 children) built a name on, as one listen to the title track or Jump To My Rules will confirm. The ode to Kimbrough's own sexual appetites, Spit In My Mouth rides one smooth groove all the way to guitar orgasm but lyrically may be more information that some need. Fans of the Fat Possum catalog should find a home here. A sharp re-entry into the blues atmosphere. (JC)

 
B.B. KING Ace CDCHD 1150 The Best Of The Early Years ● CD $18.98
25 tracks, 76 mins, essential
Always great to hear the young, hungry B.B. King, one still feeling out his place in music and experimenting with different sounds. So here you get (of course) some raw blues, but also some Jump Blues, R&B and Boogie, all of which landed heavy play in the jukeboxes of the day. Majority of tracks are from the 1950's to early 1960's with only one track as late as 1971. Starts with some of his earliest tracks recorded for the Bihari Brothers and their Modern record label, like the fantastic B.B.s Boogie (1950) and She's Dynamite (1951), which were both recorded at Sam Phillips' legendary Union Avenue studio. There's also his reworking of Blues classic Bottle Up and Go, presented here as Shake it Up and Go which would prove to be a big hit for King. Then there's the original recording of B.B. `s standard Woke Up This Morning, the Maxwell Davis arranged You Upset Me, classics like Everyday I Have The Blues/ Early In The Morning/ Catfish Blues/ Sweet Sixteen, on and on. So many great tracks! There's even a Lee Hazelwood number and a version of Why I Sing The Blues which is a unique take from original masters that is exclusive to this compilation. Only a handful of tracks on this are duplicated on the Classics BB King "1949 - 1952", the Ace would be coming off of master tapes and has superior sound quality as well as presentation. Superb. But I'm sure that's not a surprise considering the man and the era we are dealing with. (JM)

 
B.B. KING BGO BGOCD 665 Mr. Blues/ Confessin' The Blues ● CD $18.98
24 tracks, recommended
Two of B.B.'s early ABC Paramount albums on one CD. "Mr. Blues" was issued in 1963 and includes five tracks from a session in L.A. with a band led by Maxwell Davis who B.B. had worked with before and these are fine tough blues much in the vein of his later Modern recordings with great singing and guitar. The remaining tracks are from later sessions and find ABC trying to turn B.B. into a pop singer with performances drenched in strings and vocal choruses. B.B. does his best and there are some good sings but most of these tracks sound uncomfortable. "Confessin' The Blues" is a 1965 album with B.B. doing blues standards like See See Rider/ Wee Baby Blues/ In the Dark/ Goin' To Chicago Blues and others accompanied by good band. Some fine performances, if not among B.B.'s most inspired. Booklet reprints original liner notes along with new notes by Tony Russell (FS)

 
FURRY LEWIS/ MISSISSIPPI JOE CALLICOTT Columbia/ Blue Horizon 704 179-2 The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions ● CD $19.98
Two CDs, 29 tracks, highly recommended
Two superb Mississippi blues artists recorded for Blue Horizon in 1968 and originally issued on two LPs. This two CD set adds a bunch of bonus unissued tracks - two by Furry and six unissued songs by Callicott plus two alternate takes. Both artists were based around Memphis and their music has a gentler, more melodic quality, than their Delta countertops. Both artists had recorded pre-war and Furry, who was rediscovered in 1959, was able to resume his career as part of the blues revival of the 60s and continued to perform until he was well into his 70s and passed away in 1981. Callicott was discovered by researcher George Mitchell in 1967 and, sadly, passed away a few moonths after these recordings so was unable to get the attention he certainly deserved. Because Furry recorded so extensively most of the songs here will be familiar but he is in fine form and his joy in performing transcends the familiarity of the material. Callicott's material is mostly based around traditional themes though he also has some very fine individual songs like War Time Blues, the lovely Hoist Your Window And Let You Curtain Down with it's very effective use of falsetto and the song about infamous Memphis entrepreneur Jim Canaan (or Jim Kinnane) in the fascinating, previously unissued Lost My Money In Jim Kinnane's. A must for country blues lovers. (FS)

 
ROBERT JR. LOCKWOOD Delmark 630 Steady Rollin' Man ● CD $11.98
14 tracks, 41 min, very good
Available again after being out of print for a while. Lockwood's first LP session (from 1970) is a little tentative, but many a blues fan will want to revisit it on CD anyway. Backed by the ever-steady Aces - Louis and Dave Myers, and Fred Below - he mines the Robert Johnson/ Muddy Waters lode in typical fashion, making up in competence what he might lack in confidence. Many of these sound like first takes, but Ramblin' On My Mind kicks in nicely, and Robert is less restrained on the few original songs. To these ears he sounds best on on the instrumentals Steady Groove/ Lockwood's Boogie/ Tanya, where The Aces' jazzy talents come through strongly. Two alternate takes are tagged on to the end. (MB)
ROBERT LOCKWOOD JR.: Blues And Trouble/ Can't Stand The Pain/ Kind-hearted Woman/ Lockwood's Boogie (alternate)./ Lockwood's Boogie (instrumental)/ Mean Red Spider/ Rambling Oh My Mind/ Steady Groove (instrumental)/ Steady Rollin' Man/ Take A Walk With Me/ Tanya (instrumental)/ Western Horizon/ Worst Old Feeling/ Worst Old Feeling (alternate)

 
THE MANNISH BOYS Delta Groove 116 Big Plans ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 58 minutes, highly recommended
This marks the third release for The Mannish Boys in four years. Sparks are bound to fly when the sessions include the tasteful guitar work of Kid Ramos, Kirk "Eli" Fletcher and Franck "Paris Slim" Goldwasser, plus Jody Williams steps in to offer up Groan My Blues Away plus Young And Tender. Finis Tasby is back again handing in the vocal chores for Border Town Blues/ I Get So Worried/ My Baby's A Good 'Un/ Walkin' Down Fillmore and Why Do Things Happen To Me. Johnny Dyer's voice and harp are both full and frighteningly good on the Muddy Waters classic Just To Be With You and Jimmy Rogers' Broken Hearted Blues. Never short on all-star blues talent, The Mannish Boys also features Rick Holmstrom, Mitch Kashmar, Rob Rio, Larry Taylor, Jeff Turmes, Richard "Big Foot" Innes and others. Delta Groove continues to fly the blues banner high and mighty without giving in to fads or trends. (CR)

 
STICK MCGHEE JSP JSPCD 7763 With Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry - New York Blues ● CD $28.98
Four CD set with 105 tracks of New York City blues recorded between 1947 and 1955. Although Stick (or Sticks) McGhee's name is featured prominently on the cover there are actually more cuts by his older brother Brownie as well as 15 cuts by Sonny Terry. Brownie is featured on a number of the cuts by Stick and Stick is on a several of the Brownie cuts. If you don't already have this material it's a fine selection of New York blues with lots of other great New York musicians in attendance.
BROWNIE MCGHEE: A Letter To Lightnin’ Hopkins/ Bad Nerves/ Bottom Blues/ Brownie’s New Worried Life Blues/ C.C. Baby/ C.C. Rider, Where Did She Go/ Confused/ Contact Me/ Diamond Ring/ Dissatisfied Blues/ Dissatisfied Woman/ Don’t Mistreat Me/ Feed Me Baby/ Forgive Me/ Four O’Clock In The Morning/ Gone Baby Gone/ Heart In Sorrow/ Heartache Blues/ I Feel So Good/ I Was Fooled/ It Hurts Me Too/ It’s Over/ I’m Gonna Move Cross The River/ Key To The Highway/ Lover (Ease My Worried Mind)/ Mean Old Frisco Alt. Tk/ Mean Ole Frisco/ Meet You In The Morning/ My Consolation/ My Other Home/ New Bad Blood Blues/ New Sporting Life Blues/ Pawn Shop Blues/ Real Good Feelin’/ Sittin’ On Top Of The World/ Sittin’ Pretty/ Smiling And Crying/ So Much Trouble/ Stranger’s Blues/ Sweet Baby Blues/ Sweet Lover/ Tell Me Baby/ The Way I Feel/ True Blues/ Weeping Willow/ Yellow Moon/ You Got To Love Me Baby Too/ STICK MCGHEE: Baby Baby Blues/ Blue And Brokenhearted/ Blue Barrelhouse/ Blues In My Heart & Tears In My Eyes/ Blues Mixture/ Dealin’ From The Bottom/ Double Crossin’ Liquor/ Drank Up All The Wine Last Night/ Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (First Version)/ Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (Second Version)/ Ease My Worried Mind/ Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter/ Head Happy With Wine/ Help Me Baby/ House Warmin’ Boogie/ I’ll Always Remember/ I’m Doin’ All This Time(And You Put Me Down)/ Jungle Juice/ Let’s Do It/ Little Things We Used To Do/ Lonesome Road Blues/ Meet You In The Morning/ My Baby’s Comin’ Back/ My Little Rose/ New Found Love/ No More Reveille/ Oh What A Face/ One Monkey Don’t Stop The Show/ Sad, Bad, Glad/ She’s Gone Rock Away Blues/ Six To Eight/ Southern Menu/ Tall Pretty Woman/ Tennessee Waltz Blues/ The Wiggle Waggle Woo/ Things Have Changed/ Travelin’ On/ Venus Blues/ Wee Wee Hours Pt. 1/ Wee Wee Hours Pt. 2/ Whiskey Women And Loaded Dice/ You Gotta Have Something On The Ball/ SONNY TERRY: 4 O’Clock Blues/ Airplane Blues/ Baby, Let’s Have Some Fun/ Bad Luck Blues/ Dirty Mistreater, Don’t You Know/ Going Down Slow/ Harmonica Train/ I Have Had My Fun/ Keys To The Highway/ Lonesome Room/ Mad Man Blues/ Man Ain’t Nothin’ But A Fool/ No Love Blues/ Telephone Blues/ Wine Headed Woman/ Women Is Killing Me

 
MEMPHIS SLIM Collectables 9549 Cold Blooded Woman ● CD $7.98
12 tracks, 32 mins, highly recommended
This collection keeps turning up on different labels, most recently Savoy Jazz, but if you don't already have it it's definitely worth your time. Excellent 1961 set originally recorded for the Strand label which was to be Slim's last U.S. session before relocating to Europe. He is in fine voice and plays some great piano and is accompanied by a tough combo with Johnny Board on tenor sax, John Calvin on alto and the brilliant Matt Murphy on guitar. Murphy's guitar playing is particularly fine on songs like Lonesome/ It's Been Too Long and I'll Just Keep On Singing The Blues - his solos are quintessential electric blues guitar. (FS)

 
MEMPHIS SLIM Membran 22457 Worried Life Blues ● CD $11.98
Four CD set with 77 tracks in this German label's incredibly low priced "Quadromania" series by the popular and prolific Memphis Slim. The first two discs features a selection of sides by Slim recorded between 1940 and 1950 with various small combos and also including accompaniment to Lillie Mae Kirkman. The third disc is from a 1961 session with Jazz Gillum and Arbee Stidham which might have been nice if it wern't for Stidham's apalling guitar work. The last disc features 18 tracks, supposedly all unissued, from various sessions held between 1972 and 1980 with Slim solo and with small combos.

 
JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS Ace CDHCD 1148 Be Cool - The Modern & Dolphin Sessions, 1952-1954 ● CD $18.98
25 tracks, 71 mins, highly recommended
Wonderful collection of low key West Coast blues from this premiere cocktail blues combo. Best known as the launching pad for the great Charles Brown, the group continuing turning out outstanding recordings after Brown left to pursue his solo career in 1948 often using vocalists who emulated Brown's languid style. On these recordings made between 1952 and '54 here that role is taken by the excellent Frankie Ervin who could emulate the Charles Brown style but was far from an imitator and a number of tracks show his versatility on a wide range of material. The group is also joined by excellent female vocalist Mari Jones. The group frequently expanded beyond the three in its name featuring appearances from Johnny's brother Oscar Moore, pianists Nelson Alexander and Billy Valentine, tenor saxist Maxwell Davis, drummer Jesse Sailes and others. This set includes seven previously unissued performances including Frankie's version of the traditional ballad Seven Nights Drunk called Saturday Night and the soulful instrumental Johnny's After Hours. There are also versions of two of Mari's songs without the overdubbed harmony vocals on the issued versions. Sound quality from original masters is stunning and the 16 page illustrated booklet has in depth notes by Jim Dawson. (FS)

 

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