Monday, October 03, 2011

That Good Earl King Rhythm and Blues

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 seventh in a series of posts of my reviews from this series 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.

The one release of the seven that was not part of The Legacy of the Blues series is the one by Earl King, that reissues the Sonet lp That Good Old/New New Orleans Rock and Roll. Charters got a tight band that included Dave Lastie and Clarence Ford on saxes, Maurice Richard on piano and the French Brothers, Bob and George on bass and drums respectively for King to reprise sole of his classics like Trick Bag, Mama and Papa and Come On Let the Good Times Roll, along with Let’s Make a Better World, that Dr. John had recorded, and Do Re Mi, which Lee Dorsey had recorded.

King always had a way of putting songs together with neat lyrical hooks but neither his soulful vocals or guitar playing were ever in the listener’s face, and the performances could show a certain quirkiness. Listening to less familiar songs like Baby Sittin’ or The Panic's On, one’s almost tempted to term the music quirky, but really there is a craftsmanship at work here in how the songs are put together and the restrained performances that is very engaging. Certainly this reissue is most welcome.

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