Saturday, October 01, 2011

Snooks Eaglin - Crescent City Rhythm and Blues Troubador

Back three decades ago, Samuel Charters produced a series of blues lps for the Swedish Sonet label, The Legacy of the Blues, along with some other blues recordings. Charters is known as both a blues author (The Country Blues, The Poetry of the Blues, Bluesmen) as well as a producer of blues recordings, including the classic Chicago, The Blues Today! and albums by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy to name a few of the artists he recorded. Universal Music, through its Verve imprint has just issued seven of the seven Sonet lps for reissue in a series, The Sonet Blues Story. Six of these are from The Legacy of the Blues series. This is the sixth in a series of posts of my reviews from this series, although my statement about Snooks being the only living performer in the series is no longer true. These reviews that originally appeared in the June 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 283)

It should be noted that on these Sonet reissues, the playing time is somewhat short. Even those with extra tracks (such as the one reviewed below) do not exceed 45 minutes. Still there is some good to exceptional music to be heard on these. This CD may be out-of-print but is available from various sellers and is available as mp3 files. I received my review copy from the publication.

Snooks Eaglin, the remarkable New Orleans singer-guitarist, is the only performer still living in this series. Unfortunately Samuel Charters recorded Eaglin as a solo artist rather than in a band context, helping perpetuate the myth of him being a street singer-songster. Not to say that this disc is not full of engaging performances including takes on songs from Sam Cooke (Good News), Little Richard (Lucille), John Lee Hooker (Boogie Children taken at a slower tempo and opening with Eaglin’s own spontaneous rap), Jimmy Rogers (That’s All Right mistitled here as Who’s Loving You Tonight and credited to Eaglin), and Lonnie Johnson (Tomorrow Night), as well as a stunning guitar adaptation of Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie and a terrific Funky Malaguena. Previously unissued bonus tracks include Shake a Hand and Shake Rattle and Roll.

Listening to these performance one is astonished by the fertility of Eaglin’s imagination but also one wishes that he had been plugged in, but one would have to wait for Rounder and Black Top to capture the side of Snooks that still dazzles us today. This is not to dismiss the many pleasures here, but Snooks could be electrifying, not simply astonishing.

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