Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snooks Eaglin's 1st Black Top LP reissued

One of my favorite artists was the late Snooks Eaglin who passed away in February of this year. Hep Cat, a Collector’s Choice subsidiary obtained the Black Top catalog and started reissues from the catalog with a Digi-pac reissue of Eaglin’s first Black Top album amongst others. Here is my review which was run in the June 2009 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (#317).

Hep Cat, a subsidiary of Collectors Choice, has reissued Snooks Eaglin’s 1987 album, “Baby You Can Get Your Gun.” This was the first of five discs he recorded for Black Top that are the cornerstone of his recorded legacy. Labeled the Human Jukebox because of his vast repertoire, the Black Top recordings captured his wide repertoire along with his singular guitar style with his unpredictable twisting lines and an almost pianistic attack on the strings. This disc had him backed by a stellar band that included Ron Levy on keyboards, Ronnie Earl on guitar, bassist Erving Charles and drummer Smokey Johnson from Fats Domino’s band, and saxophonist David Lastie. Things get going with a solid rendition of Guitar Slim’s “You Give Me Nothing But the Blues,” followed by a reflective take on Percy Mayfield’s “Baby Please,” with Lastie adding the tasty sax. More of a direct second flavor follows on “Oh Sweetness,” while a jazz meets Ventures flavor marks the instrumental, “Profinia,” with Snooks dazzling with what sound like off the cuff riffs. Tommy Ridgely’s blues ballad “Lavinia,” receives a nice vocal followed by the vintage Earl King rocker that gives this disc its title. The hard funk number “Drop the Bomb,” is followed by a reworking of his Imperial recording”That Certain Door.” Another strong blues performance is “Nobody Knows,” with its pleading vocal with more solid guitar followed by a rocking rendition of Eugene Church’s “Pretty Girl Everywhere,” with more fine tenor from Lastie. At the time, this was Snooks best album, and it holds up today as a very fine effort. It would be followed by even better albums later (my particular favorite is “Out of Nowhere”), and we should be thankful that it has been made available once again.

I was sent a review copy from the publicist for Collectors Choice.

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