Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Lonnie Johnson Doing "Got The Blues For Murder Only".
Steppin’ The Blues, Lonnie Johnson, Columbia Records, 1990.
Parts of the following have been used in a review of Lonnie Johnson Blues and Ballads CD (hereafter B&B).
Okay, Okay those of you who have been keeping tabs know that I have spend much of the last year, when not doing political commentary or book or movie reviews, reviewing many of the old time blues artists that were the passion of my youth (and still are). So this writer, who thought he had heard virtually all the key blues men and women of the old days, got his comeuppance a while back when the name of Lonnie Johnson and his version of the classic double-entendre song “Jelly Roll Baker” came up. To name drop just a little, the occasion was a local reunion of Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin of the old Jim Kweskin Jug Band from the 1960’s (that also included Geoff’s ex-wife and great performer in her own right, Maria Muldaur). They did a stirring rendition of the song and attributed it to the performer under review here. After scratching my head I ran out to get some more of Brother Lonnie’s work and as noted above I have fulsomely praised his B&B CD in this space.
Although this CD has merit musically and certainly has historical worth as a comparison of young Lonnie Johnson in the 1920’s to the later B&B Lonnie this is one time when aging seems to have created a better body of work. A comparison of “I’m Nuts About That Gal” (really an early version of his classic “Jelly Roll Baker”) and the “Jelly Roll Baker” of the B&B make my point succinctly. That said, the noted Johnson guitar work is highlighted on “Guitar Blues”, the novelty sassy song in two parts “Toothache Blues” and “Deep Blue Sea Blues”. That is why you want this album.