The following review appeared originally in the January-February 2000 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 243) as one of three reviews I did of recent releases on Fedora Records. I have made a few minor changes to the original review. I posted my review of Al Garrett's Out of Bad Luck a few days ago.
J.J. Malone's See Me Early in the Morning is his second release for Fedora. Malone has been a mainstay of the Oakland, California blues scene for years. Malone mixes downhome blues influences with more urbane influences to produce an interesting mix of music.
The album opens with a remake of his It's a Shame, which was a minor hit in several cities in the sixties. It is followed by the title track which is credited to Junior Wells, and perhaps most associated with the first Sonny Boy Williamson, but which goes back to pioneering blues pianist Walter Roland. Characteristic of these and many of the performances is a distinctive, syncopated and funky rhythm.
Most of the songs are originals, though Malone is heard strongly on a reworking of Memphis Slim's Mother Earth, and reworks Muddy Waters' Walkin' Thru the Park, with an arrangement that borrows from Cross Cut Saw. An instrumental, Smoked Oysters, suggests the swamp blues sound of Slim Harpo, while Malone goes down in the alley on the country-blues flavored Peace Breakin' Woman.
Malone plays and sings effectively throughout and this joins his prior Fedora album as one for blues fans to consider.