Here is a review of an interesting compilation of blues that originally appeared in Jazz & Blues Report, July 2010 (issue 327) on page 7. You can download the complete issue at jazz-blues.com.
Leric Records was an independent blues label operated by bluesman Jimmy Dawkins in the 1980's. During it's relatively brief existence it issued a number of 45 rpm singles by lesser known members of the Chicago blues community, including some still active today. Dawkins produced or purchased for release the sides issued on Leric, playing on some of the sessions, but mostly making available some interesting music. Delmark has just issued “Jimmy Dawkins Presents: The Leric Story,” with 16 selections, including several previously unissued selections.
Little Johnny Christian opens this collection up with a driving “New LIfe,” with the band including Michael Coleman on guitar and Eddie ‘Jewtown’ Burks on harmonica with a terrific tagline “Why every man gotta have two women, and a good woman only needs one man.” Outside of the functional, unimaginative horn arrangements their is some nicer playing including fine vocal and guitar. Dawkins’ penned “Luv Somebody,” with a strong chugging groove that would be home on a Johnny Taylor Recording with Vance Kelly taking the lead guitar. The two other Christian performances give further evidence of what a fine singer he was and also were the first session for guitarist Chico Banks. “Ain’t Gonna Worry About Tomorrow,” which uses the “Cummins Prison Farm Blues,” melody is an impressive performance with strong singing and terrific playing from Banks. Dawkins’ recognizable guitar is present on the sides by the late bassist-vocalist Queen Sylvia Embry (including the excellent “I Know I Ain't Number One”) and the early siders by Nora Jean (Bruso) who sides show more promise that has been realized on her recent recordings, including an excellent disc on Severn. Dawkins’ also supports a fine performance from bassist Robert ‘Big Mojo’ Elem who once anchored the bands of Freddie King and Luther Allison. His side was previously unissued as were the three sides (one an instrumental) by singer-guitarist Vance Kelly who is still active. “Use What you Got,” is a mix of soulful singing and a down home blues groove. Tail Dragger is represented by two sides with a solid band but I find his Howlin’ Wolf styled performances over-bearing and suffer from his mumbling diction, but others will disagree. Sister Margo and Healing Center Choir close this compilation with two solid gospel performances.
In summary, a solid collection of 80’s Chicago blues which exhibit more than a little soul, but remain rooted in the more traditional blues. David Whiteis contributes a concise overview of the music here. It is not an essential release, but one that still is valuable, especially for making available music from Christian and Kelly.
For FTC purposes, the review copy was sent by the recording company.