Monday, April 18, 2011

Mance Lipscomb Marvelous Blues and More

The late Mance Lipscomb certainly was an invaluable discovery by Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz.. The full title of the Arhoolie reissue, You Got To Reap What You Sow: Texas Songster Volume 2, says it all. Mance Lipscomb wasn’t a blues performer, but rather was a songster who played all sorts of songs for his family and friends. Once he was discovered and started playing concerts, he perhaps skewed his repertoire to the blues, but it was the depth of his repertoire that made him so invaluable.

The 24 songs give a sense of the depth of his repertoire, and include versions of Texas blues themes like Hattie Green; blues recordings like Walter Davis’ Come Back Baby and Memphis Minnie’s Bumble Bee; ballads like Joe Turner Killed a Man, and The Titanic; and popular songs like Long Way to Tipperary and You Rascal You.

Mance was a wonderful guitarist and a warm singer. Reflecting the milieu of the country house parties that he would play for most of his life, his performing style is devoid of gimmicks, simply played with skill and honesty. This is an expanded version of the original album, which was his second release for Arhoolie and includes 13 previously unissued songs, including a new rendition of Tom Moore Blues, a protest blues about a Washington County,Texas landowner.

I had the pleasure seeing Mance Lipscomb perform live once, opening for Big Mama Thornton at the University of Buffalo and his performance was every bit as wonderful as his recordings. His music was not showy, just warmly performed and full of sincerity and heart. This review originally appeared in the April 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 190) although I have made minor stylistic changes. This release is available both a CD and as downloads.

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