Sunday, January 14, 2007
The Good Doctor Cures the Boogie Disease
This is a review I did in 1992 of Dr. Ross for Jazz & Blues Report. Dr. Ross passed away in 1993 and I am fortunate to have seen the one-man band perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival several times in the late 1980s.
Isaiah “Dr.” Ross
Now a resident of the Detroit area, Isaiah “Dr.” Ross developed from a fine delta blues artist in the tradition of Big Joe Williams and Robert Petway into a one-man band. One of the artists who recorded for Sam Phillips, his early Memphis recordings have been reissued on Boogie Disease. Listening to the exuberance of the alternates to Boogie Disease and Chicago Breakdown, one can detect not only the strong delta rhythmic style of a Big Joe Williams (as well as northern transplant John lee Hooker), but also more than a bit of the influence of John Lee Williamson, reflected in a variety of songs including Going Back South and Polly Put a Kettle On. Of considerable note are his strong interpretations of such delta themes as Going to the River (Derived perhaps from Blind Lemon Jefferson, but played in the delta style), Shake ‘Em Down and Mississippi Blues. The latter is a Catfish Blues variant better known as Cat’s Squirrel and the source of the recording by the rock group, Cream. In addition to his youthful influences of John Lee Williamson and Tommy McClennan, one can also appreciate the impact of Muddy waters, and John lee Hooker, particularly on the hypnotic rhythms of Industrial Avenue Boogie, a reworking of Hooker’s Boogie Chillum.This is an updated version of a vinyl reissue, and Steve La Vere has updated his and Bob Eagle’s original liner notes. Some of you have heard some of Dr. Ross’ Sun recordings and will have an idea of the exuberant boogie and barrelhouse blues to be found here. Others are in for a treat with respect to these superbly rendered performances.