Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eisenhower Blues Has Some Excellent Post-War Blues

The following review appeared in the September/October 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 286) I have made minor corrections. I should note that my original review did not include the recording's subtitle, Post-War Urban Blues Classics From the Eisenhower Era (1952-1960).

While J.B. Lenoir waxed a blues protesting the hard times during the administration of President Eisenhower during the 1950s, most of the recordings compiled on Eisenhower Blues (Empire Musicwerks) lack such a topical center but simply are strong blues recordings with most having a down home flavor.  

Long-time collectors will have some or many of these performances, but these remastered sides sound really nice. Others will discover a number of little known artists that have much to say. There are a couple of gems from Lenoir, including the title track and the lively medium tempo boogie, Fine Girls. The CD opens with John Brim’s topical Tough Times, with Jimmy Reed on harmonica. 

Others heard here of note include Jody Williams (as Little Papa Joe)  doing a peppy Lookin’ For My Baby; Harp player and vocalist Dusty Brown (recently heard on Severn’s Chicago harp anthology) on his fine downhome Yes, She’s Gone, more down home harp and vocals from Little Sammy Davis (who is still active and occasionally on Imus’ radio show) doing 1958 Blues based on the Rollin’ & Tumblin’ riff; and Joe Hill Louis’ Jealous Man (as Johnnie Louis) which sports a wild guitar break. There is Sunnyland Slim’s Goin' Back to Memphis, another Rollin & Tumblin’ variant; Willie Egan’s wild Fat Domino-inspired rocker Wow Wow Wow; a couple from Baby Boy Warren with Calvin Frazier on guitar and Washboard Willie (I believe on washboard), including Mattie Mae, adapted from a John Lee ‘Sonny Boy’ Williamson recording; an early Albert King recording (showing a bit of Elmore James influence), (Be on Your) Merry Way; and Little Willie Foster’s tough Fallin’ Rain Blues.” 

There are other equally fine songs by others on this collection with annotation from Bill Dahl making for a treasure trove for the blues fan. 

As a sample of this here is Dusty Brown's Yes, She’s Gone.

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