Showing posts with label Memphis blues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memphis blues. Show all posts

Friday, July 31, 2009

*A Mixed Bag Musical Potpourri-Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Rock And Rockabilly-In Search Of Lost Rockabilly Time

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clop Of Warren Smith Doing "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby". Wow!

CD Review

In Search Of Lost Time

Lost Gold Rockabilly Collector’ Series, Original Historic Rockabilly Classics, various artists, Lost Gold Records, 1998

I have spent some time discussing the various rockabilly artists who did, or did not, make it in the 1950's out of Sam Phillips' Memphis-based Sun Records. I have reviewed at least one CD with a compilation that contained such one-shot hits as Sonny Burgess' "Red-Headed Women" and "Rock `n' Rock Ruby". I have also reviewed a very interesting PBS documentary on the 50th Anniversary of Sun Records that included the usual "talking head" commentary, although this time though including various artists who did not make the "bigs" for one reason or another. It is that last point that is relevant here.

I have also been spending a fair amount of ink in this space recently discussing those who didn't make it big in various genres like folk, the blues, early rock and now rockabilly. This compilation is a case study about why, out of all the talents who tried to become "kings of the hill" (and it was mainly, although not exclusively men), some did not make it. We have here the usual subjects for rockabilly songs of thwarted love, longing for love, the vagaries of love, two-timing women (and men, listen to the result, in "Black Cadillac"), cars, Saturday night dances and other things near and dear to the hearts of teenagers in the 1950's (and, with updating, now as well) that made up the lyrics of this genre. So that is not the problem.

What struck me after listening to this compilation a couple of times was that although there were some outstanding riffs, some hot guitar playing, some lines of parts of songs that could have made it big the whole package were not there. Only a couple of songs grabbed and held my attention throughout. Nothing came up to the two classics mentioned in the first paragraph. A number of songs barely were to the left of traditional country and western numbers. I do not know how much of a role being in the right place at the right time, being merely imitative of greater artists, like Elvis and Carl Perkins, as is obviously the case with some performers here or of not being willing to risk all for glory played in all of this. However, just as with the Sun rockabilly artists who didn't make it, or who were one shot johnnies (or janies) or who just gave up the grind was tough. If you want to know about those who didn't get to the top of the rockabilly heap listen here. This is the search for lost time, indeed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

***Once Again, A Blues Potpourri-John Lee Hooker And Furry Lewis

Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of Furry Lewis Doing "Kassie Jones" Wow!


John Lee Hooker and Furry Lewis, John Lee Hooker, Furry Lewis, Yazoo Productions, 2002

I have recently reviewed a few of John Lee Hooker’s vast number of blues albums that lend credence to the title “Boogie Chillen” man. I also noted that unlike other old time electric blues artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and Lighting Hopkins that Hooker’s work, in general, leaves me cold. Although the small segment of his work presented here is good as he articulates his sense of what the blues mean, especially as it features one of his signature songs that I like, “Boom Boom”, I still am left with that same feeling. I finish by noting that this is a question of personal taste. Hooker is a blues legend, justifiably so. Case closed.

The other figure in this short Yazoo production is a different story. I have also reviewed Furry Lewis’s work elsewhere in this space and have praised his clean guitar picking style and vocals from his early career in the 1920’s when he was along with Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson one of the kings of the guitar pick. Furry does not fail here late in his career after reemerging during the folk revival of the 1960’s. His version of the famous “Kassie Jones” is worth the price of admission.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blues In The Night


The First Time I Met The Blues, various artists, When The Sun Goes Down Series, RCA Victor Records, 2002

As one can tell by the title of this series "When The Sun Goes Down", a series that has also included the work of Blind Willie McTell an artist that I have reviewed in this space previously, this is going to be a bedrock example of a thoughtful way to preserve our blues history. As in the McTell case it does not fail us here. What the folks who have produced this series and this particular CD have done is gone to the old RCA Victor vaults and selected some very nice and very representative songs (and a few obscure one, as well) from the early 1920’s on. For those not aware of this history RCA and other record companies in the 1920’s sent out agents throughout this country scouring the streets and byways for new sound- the foothills of Appalachia, the cotton field of the South, the honky-tonks of the Texas Panhandle. Wherever. Here they have gotten hold of some golden blues material. Listen up.

I will merely summarize this who’s who of early, basically, country blues. Even the barrel house blues of the cities and juke joints has that country flavor during this period. It is not until later when the blues moved north to Memphis and Chicago with the black migration away from the farms and, more importantly got electrified, that we get a bit of a different sound. The tunes here depend on piano, harmonica and acoustic guitar for the most part. Here is what you need to hear- Victoria Spivey (an extremely important figure in the blues business in her own who deserves an entry of her own) on "Telephoning The Blues"; of course, Blind Willie McTell on the classic, no, super classic "Statesboro Blues"; Memphis Jug Band of "Cocaine Habit Blues" (before it was illegal); Sippy Wallace- "The Texas Nightingale"-on "I’m A Mighty Tight Woman"; Jimmie Rodgers on "Blue Yodel#9" (hard to do by the way on a blues number); Little Brother Montgomery on the title cut; and, Blind Willie Reynolds on "Married Woman Blues". You can find your own favorites out of the 25 that you have to choose from here. Nice, just very nice.