A recent Offbeat article analogized that Snooks Eaglin is to guitarists what Professor Longhair was to pianists. Further evidence of his distinctive musical styling is presented by his fourth album for Black Top, a set which may be the label’s most significant body of music.
His percussive, chicken-scratching guitar playing is immediately recognizable. His slightly sand-papered, but unmannered vocals deliver lyrics with wit or earnestness as required. His low-key approach certainly helps boost such trivial lyrics as Ling Ting Tong, and Skinny Minnie. At the same time, the simplicity of his vocal makes I’m Not Ashamed so believable.
There are a couple of great second line grooves, with Fats Domino’s Josephine, and the equally terrific, I Went to the Mardi Gras.
Not everything works, as Snooks’ vocal lacks the vitality of Hank Ballard as he fails to pull off the Midnighters’ Let’s Go, Let’s Go (here titled Thrill on the Hill). The instrumental Answer Now, sports too much musical noodling, but the late night blues You and Me has more terrific playing, though its impact is somewhat diffused by its length.
This album does not reach the level of Out of Nowhere, my favorite of his earlier Black Top albums, but, given Snooks imagination, the variety of material, and his startling guitar playing, one can hardly go wrong with Soul’s Edge.
I likely received a review copy from Black Top. This review originally appeared in the May 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 201). This may be found used. Here is Snooks in performance.