Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pinetop Perkins Was A Ladies Man

This was a review I wrote back in 2004 that likely appeared in the DC Blues Society’s newsletter.

While Pinetop Perkins has recorded a number of albums, one limitation has been the fact that he has a small core of songs that he repeatedly records. While his performances are solid, one does wish to get some fresh material. M.C. Records has just issued a new Pinetop Perkins, Ladies Man which avoids some of these problems by having Pinetop record accompanying some blues women including Deborah Coleman, Susan Tedeschi, Madiline Peyroux, Ruth Brown, Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli, Ann Rabson and Odetta. I believe this was recorded around the time of the 2003 Handy Award shows which enabled these recordings to take place. Pinetop's renditions of Leroy Carr's How Long Blues and Wilbert Harrison's hit Kansas City, don't break new ground but are typically pleasant performances amiably sung. It certainly nice to hear Susan Tedeschi sing Ivory Joe Hunter's ballad Since I Met You Baby with nice accompaniment, while Odetta gives us a strong rendition of Trouble in Mind with Ruth Brown's revival of her old friend, Big Joe Turner's Chains of Love, to which she embellishes with her own sassy self.

Pinetop Perkins at
2005 North Atlantic Blues Festival
Photo © Ron Weinstock
I was not familiar with Madeleine Peyroux who sings the delightful vaudeville-styled He's Got Me Goin'. Deborah Coleman sings Meanest Woman, credited to Muddy Waters but really Tommy Johnson's classic Maggie Campbell Blues. Marcia Ball duets on piano with Pinetop on Pinetop's New Boogie Woogie while I believe Ann Rabson shares the piano on a lovely Careless Love. Angela Strehli salutes the pianist with Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins, a song that takes at its premise Pinetop's tall story of having written Pinetop's Boogie Woogie, which was recorded by the legendary Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith in the twenties when Joe Willie Perkins was a wee boy. It may have been a signature number for him, leading him to be identified for the song, but it was not his song. However, the nonsensical lyrics did prevent me from enjoying her performance.

This was a varied and enjoyable release that is distinguished from much of Pinetop’s recordings.

Here is Pinetop performing Miss Ida B.

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