A surprising new release on Delmark makes available the first recordings byJames Yancy Jones, better known as Tail Dragger, Stop Lyin’. It was recorded at the time Tail Dragger had been been performing with various bands, but had yet to make to make music his career. He had been working as a truck mechanic and a log distance hauler (including traveling down south to haul back catfish from Mississippi for the Delta Fish market) On Stop Lyin’, he was backed by a band that included Johnny B Moore and Jesse Lee Williams on guitar, Eddie ‘Jewtown’ Burks or Little Mac Simmons on harmonica, Willie Kent on bass and Larry Taylor on drums with Lafayette Leake
adding piano on two selections.
Tail Dragger’s music is very much in the vein of Howlin’ Wolf that Justin O’Brien, in the liner notes, observes was an “over-the-top take on Wolf’s delivery.” Two of the nine songs here So Ezee and My Head Is Bald were issued on Jimmy Dawkins’ Leric label and the others appear on a recording for the first time. Tail Dragger’s songs here are all originals although some modeled on Wolf’s recordings so the groove of Where Did You Go might evoke Smokestack Lightnin’ or Commit a Crime, whereas the use of the Dust My Broom riff on Alabama Bound similarly suggests Wolf’s Highway 61. Their is some nice slide guitar on the latter number. Tail Dragger was, and is, an appealing singing although his vocals lack the articulation of the Wolf's singing.
In addition to the blues performances, this cd is filled out by the lengthy spoken Tail’s Tale, a fascinating and frank bit of oral history that provides some sense of the time and place of this recording. The songs are nicely played and performed and this will appeal to fans of old school Chicago blues.
I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is a video of Tail Dragger with Rockin' Johnny doing My Head Is Bald.