Sunday, August 15, 2010

For Eddie King "The Blues Has Got Me"

Back in 1987, the Dutch Double Trouble label put out a terrific LP by Eddie King & Mae Bee Mae, “The Blues Has Got Me.” It documented a brother sister partnership that was ended as Mae returned to Atlanta and her husband while King (real surname Milton) played for a long spell with Koko Taylor. In 1998, Roesch Records issued an excellent release by King which won a Handy Award for Comeback album, but over a decade later, King has unfortunately sunk into obscurity, which is a shame because of the excellent music he recorded and displayed in live performances.

Black Magic has just issued the Double Trouble album on CD and added three previously unissued selections and it certainly is a cause for celebration. The band is King, Sir Lucky King on rhythm guitar, Lendell ‘Slim’ Moore on guitar, Joe Roland on bass and James Mason drums with Golden Wheeler on harp of three tracks, Allen Batts on keyboards for three tracks and Earl Crossley adding tenor sax on three. It opens with a driving rendition of Bill Coday’s ”When You Find a Fool,” a song I am oddly familiar with from Koko taylor’s recording. King’s vocal and the band’s hard driving approach may be better than the late Queen of the Blues. Great single note guitar solo from Slim Moore on this. The title track is a burning blues with Moore again on lead guitar, as King takes a great vocal. Wheeler’s harp kicks off “Love at First Side,” on a nice shuffle. Mae Bee Mae first takes the vocal mike for “The 12 Year Old Girl,” reversing the sexes of the Elmore James’ recording. “99 Pounds,” is a tough Ann Peebles number where Mae Bee struts about good things like her coming in a small package.

After Eddie’s able cover of Albert King’s “Laundromat Blues,” Mae Bee Mae delivers the nifty “Able Mae Bee,” (reworking a Mabel John classic) with its clever lyrics and funky groove that showcases her delivery. It is followed by another her slow blues, “He’ll Drain On you,” where she testifies that nothing wrong with an old woman going with a younger man with King adding stinging slide guitar except he’ll drain the woman for her money and automobile and all your loving. After King’s nice rendition of B.B. King’s “The Woman I Love,” Mae Bee pays a homage to Lucille Spann’s “Country Girl Returns,” which is retitled here as “Buttermilk and Cornbread,” as she sings that if you don’t put anything in, you can’t get anything out. As she describes feeding her man her chitlins, her big yellow yams, her buttermilk and cornbread, one gets a sense more is involved than food with King’s guitar being very strong in the vein of the late Sammie Lawhorn. New to this disc is king’s nice rendition of the Eddie Giles easy going soul rocker, “Losin’ Boy,” and Mae Bee’s fine rendition of Denise LaSalle’s “Man-Sized Job,” where she tells her man to left the home work half-done to get out of the way and let a boy do a man-sized job, with King delivering tough guitar here. The disc closes with a funk-based instrumental, “Eddie’s Thang.” with a solid bass groove.

The disc partially reproduces Robert Pruter’s original liner notes, with the rest on Black Magic’s website,, although the CD does not note which selections are previously unissued. This is a highly recommended disc. Eddie King produced some recording gems and this observer concurs with Robert Pruter’s assessment “As far as Mae’s singing goes, KoKo Taylor move over.” I would expect some of the strong music here to be interpreted by some of today’s blues artists. If Eddie and Mae Bee are able, then perhaps they will both get a new day in the Blues Sun. I purchased this from BlueBeat Music, but I would assume other blues specialists also carry this.

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