Friday, November 16, 2012

Barrelhouse Buck's Alton Blues

Barrelhouse Buck McFarland first recorded for the legendary Paramount label in 1929 and Decca had him wax sides in 1934-1935. Bob Koester was living in St. Louis when  he located McFarland in 1957 with the help of Speckled Red and Charlie O’Brien. Koester then recorded him in 1961 shortly after Sam Charters had recorded McFarland for Folkways. 

I do not believe the selections on the new Delmark CD Alton Blues have previously been issued. In any event, is a delight to hear real barrelhouse piano, especially when played as solidly as here. He displays strong left hand bass and right hand chords while hammering out single notes as exhibited on Charlie’s Stomp, as well as on the more meditative accompaniment (still with hammered single note runs) on Railroad Blues. This number he sings in a very husky, straightforward fashion. 

Included are two takes of his signature song, I Got to Go Blues, which he waxed for Paramount, with a marvelous melancholic vocal as well as a strutting instrumental, Barrelhouse Buck. This is a marvelous session with variety in material, and includes some brief spoken tracks enhancing a wonderful album for anyone who loves blues piano.

The above review appeared originally in the May-June 2007 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 293) as part of a review of several Delmark releases. I have made some stylistic changes. I received my review copy from Delmark.

No comments: