Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Time Machine Looking at Blues From September 1976

Back in the Time Machine to my blues column from the September 1976  Buffalo Jazz Report. I was at the B.B. King show I mention which was theater in the round so the stage rotated during the show. My comment on B.B.'s guitar playing may raise some eyebrows but I recall that there was a shift on the Live and Well album that was the first to mark his playing being a bit less fluid. Note the plug to Living Blues which since moved from Chicago to the University of Mississippi, so that subscription infomation is outdated The issue I referred to had the first of two very lengthy interviews with Charles Brown that appeared in Living Blues.

By the time you read this B.B. King will have been at Melody Fair, and James Cotton and Muddy Waters will have been at the Outside Inn in Angola so that August was a pretty good month for Buffalo as far as bringing in blues from out of town. Bobby Bland will be at Kleinhans September 13 and you should check him out even though I find his latest recording with B.B. King Together Again ... Live (ABC Impulse ASD-9317) somewhat of a disappointment. There are good moments, but the music lacks focus and sometimes drags, especially on Feel So Bad One other complaint is B.S.'s guitar work which I haven't really liked since the late 60s when his playing became choppy. These two are among the major blues art1sts of today but I would suggest you seek out there earlier recordings if you don't have them. It is nice, though, that this is a straight blues set, with no 'disco' touches. 

Mr. Blues is a new small label and its initial release by Good Rockin' Charles Edwards (MB 7601) is a fine one. Marred by somewhat sloppy backing, Charles is a fine relaxed singer and harp player who turns in a set of convincing performances. The songs include a couple of originals as well as songs from Little Walter, Jinmy Rogers and both Sonny Boy Williamsons. 

I will, from time to time, survey the releases of small labels that have been out for awhile, but may not be familiar to you. Trix is one of those labels and have issued a number of fine albums with a country blues orientation. Front and Center (3301) by Eddie Kirkland, one time sideman with John Lee Hooker (and Otis Redding) displays his country blues talents. Eddie's Boogie Chillen is a fine reworking of John Lee's classic and Jerdine features chilling bottleneck. Frank Edwards is an eccentric guitarist whose Done Some Travelin' (3303) includes a stunningly original, When the Saints Go Marching In, taken at a very slow tempo with bottleneck accompaniment
Robert Jr. Lockwood's Contrasts (3307) show him in a country blues setting as well as with his own jazz-oriented group with Maurice Reedus on tenor . The dominant influence on his country sides are his stepfather Robert Johnson. The band sides range from the mellow Forever on My Mind to the boppish instrumental Majors. Minors & Ninths.

Finally for those interested in reading about the blues I recommend Living Blues. It contains articles, news, interviews (the latest issue has a great one with Charles Brown) and an extensive review section . Subscriptions. which cost $4.00 for 6 issues, should be sent to Living Blues Publications, 2615 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60614. Locally the Record Runner will be carrying current issues.

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