Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Barrelhouse Blues Boogie Woogie Volume 4

This is a 2005 CD release on Storyville Records and contains some wonderful performances from 1960 to 1972 including some concert performances in addition to studio ones. Champion Jack Dupree is represented by six fine performances, Little Brother Montgomery by one (a rendition of a Fats Waller number), Speckled Red by two (including a raucous "The Dirty Dozen"), Sunnyland Slim by two including a reworking of his Aristocrat recording of "Johnson Machine Gun Blues"), Memphis Slim by three and Eddie Boyd by two. The performances are universally first-rate and there is a good variety from Little Brother's ragtime-tinged Fats Waller number to Memphis Slim's muscular boogie. Some real masters of piano blues represented here.

David Whiteis has a nice chapter on Sunnyland Slim in his recently published "Chicago Blues"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Robert Johnson Not the Single Most Influential Bluesman

Excuse me if I am a bit grumpy. Was watching a PBS broadcast after midnight this morning which was about the blues and this talking head who may have been associated with the Delta Blues Museum giving the same old stereotypical blues history from the Delta to Chicago and he spouts out the nonsense of Robert Johnson being the single most influential bluesman of all time and how blues as we know it would not exist. He even said Johnson is one of the two or three most pivotal artists in American music. They they give the example of Eric Clapton and Keith Richards as if that proves anything about Johnson's influence. The fact that people playing"blues" today, especially the popularizers and imitators, call Robert Johnson the greatest bluesman is irrelevant since their music is essentially a sidebar to the blues history. Hey Johnson is a great artist and did influence a number of very important artists, but even the modern Chicago blues was foreshadowed in earlier artists like Memphis Slim, Washboard Sam, Sonny Boy Williamson, not Rice Miller, and there was a bit of Charlie Christian's influence in the playing of Robert Lockwood, Jr., Johnson's stepson who was a major influence on post-war Chicago guitarists. 'Good Rockin Tonite,' Roy Brown's classic was a helluva lot more influential than 'Hellhound on My Trail' and modern blues would be far more different without the lead of T-Bone Walker (influenced by Blind Lemon Jefferson) and the likes of Gatemouth Brown, Guitar Slim, BB King and Lowell Fulson, or pianists like Amos Milburn and Fats Domino.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Just finished reading Rick Coleman's excellent biography, Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock’n’Roll, which hopefully will lead to greater recognition of his substantial contributions to the emergence of rock'n'roll and music in general. Fats is a shy, private man, devoted to his wife Rosemary, but whose ebullient music with its beat helped launch the rock and rooll revolution and played no small part in helping break down barriers between the races. One surprising fact was that his performances were often marked by violence, but the cause of this violence was not his music, but rather the racism of those who did not like seeing Blacks and Whites mingling together. Perhaps because he was not a wild man or extravagan showmant in the manner of many highly regarded but lesser artists, that his own contributions have been so undervalued. What a great pianist and singer. If you want to hear some terrific blues and R&B, you won't go wrong with The Fat Man. Here is a link to the Louisiana Music Factory's description of the book (I assume you can fine on your own).