Friday, August 11, 2023

Motown Blues

MOTOWN 31453-0613-2

MOTOWN 31453-0612-2

MOTOWN 31453-0611-2

While Motown is not remembered for its blues sessions, three releases in the label's Motown Masters Series should be warmly welcomed by blues fans. It should be noted that Motown's blues were not far removed from the rhythm and blues of the period. In fact on the compilation, "Motown’s Blue Evolution," perhaps only Luther Allison’s high energy tracks will strike some listeners as straight blues, the rest being viewed as R&B or soul-blues. However one pigeonholes this music, it certainly has a harder edge than the chart-making Motown recordings of the Temptations, the Supremes, and the Miracles that many of us loved then and still love today. While closing with three rousing Allison tracks with his high energy guitar and fever pitched singing, the highlights may be the six tracks by Sammy Ward whose gospel based soul-blues would have been at home on Stax. A couple of his early 5 sixties tracks, 'Part Time Love' and 'Someday Pretty Baby,' would be revived by Allison (and are on the Allison album). Also of great interest are three wonderful previously unissued selections of New Orleans R&B by Earl King, three rocking Amos Milburn selections, and two tracks each by another soulful singer, Arthur Adams and Little Willie John's sister, Mable John. While those having the rare Motown album, 'Switched on Blues' with have some of the tracks by Ward, Milburn and Mable John, much of the music here is previously unissued.

After his triumphs at various Ann Arbor Blues Festivals and a striking Delmark debut album, Luther Allison landed on Motown where he produced three albums, 'Bad News is Coming,' 'Luther’s Blues,' and 'Night Life.' 'The Motown Years 1972-1976' contains sixteen selections from those three albums, plus a previously unissued live 1972 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival performance of Little Walter's 'Last Night' (although erroneously credited to Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins). Four tracks are taken from 'Bad News Is Coming' including an outstanding 'The Red Rooster,' 'Cut You A-Loose,' and 'Dust My Broom,' each delivered with the vocal passion of Elmore James and high energy Freddie King styled guitar mixed with some hot slide. 'Luther’s Blues' is represented by nine selections including the slow, burning title track, and a rocking revival of Sammy Ward's 'Someday Pretty Baby. 'These two albums sported smaller bands, whereas the three songs from 'Night Life,' have a bigger studio aggregation that perhaps heighten a focus a bit more towards Luther's vocals. Luther may have aged in the two decades since these came out, but as those witnessing his three hour performances can attest, has lost no energy, enthusiasm, or passion in his music.

The release of Amos Milburn, 'The Motown Sessions 1962-1964' is another valuable reissue. Consisting of remakes of his Aladdin recordings along with some strong new material like 'My Daily Prayer' and 'Don’t Be No Fool,' co-authored by Milburn and legendary Motown producer Clarence Paul, included are seven previously unissued performances including a new alcohol blues, 'I'm Into Wine,' along with a new rendition of 'Chicken Shack Boogie' which is distinguished by the brassy horns, a harp solo by twelve-year old Stevie Wonder and Milburn’s smooth singing over a funky groove. Milburn’s piano here and elsewhere is of the highest order. While Cub Koda notes how more sophisticated Milburn sounds here, those familiar with the Mosaic box of Milburn’s Aladdin recordings will not be surprised by his comfort with ballads as witnessed by the remake of 'Bewildered.' Among the previously unissued titles is a version of 'I Wanna Go Home,' which Milburn co-wrote and recorded originally as a duet with Charles Brown for Ace, although in this case the vocal backing detracts. As Koda correctly notes, these were Milburn’s last significant recordings. Based in Cincinnati he would suffer a series of strokes at the end of the decade, and this writer visited the wheelchair-bound Milburn in the Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital in May, 1971. He returned to his native Houston sometime after that and recovered enough to record with Johnny Otis for the Blue Spectrum label but those recordings clearly reflected the effects of the stroke. Those who have never heard the rare original Motown album are in for some real pleasures, while the unissued selections break no new ground but certainly will add to the value of this important reissue.

I wrote this review in 1996 although I am not sure what publication (it may have been Cadence or Jazz & Blues Report).

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Charley Sayles Has Something to Say

Charlie Sayles liners by Ron Weinstock

Charlie Sayles has come away from playing blues on the Streets of New York and Washington, D.C. Today, he might be found headlining at various Washington DC area clubs like City Blues, or Afterwords, or open at Tornado Alley for Kim Wilson. One might find him at festivals including the Smithsonian Festival of American Folk Life, the D.C. Blues Festival or the Pocono Blues Festival, or he might be at Carnegie Hall for a folk music concert that was part of Carnegie Hall's centennial celebration, In addition to tours of England and Europe, Charlie also has been traveling more in the Northeast United States and recently completed a very successful Canadian tour. While still not a “blues superstar,” Charlie's increasing visibility in great part is due to his first JSP album, the highly acclaimed "Night Ain't Right" that made made many aware of Charlie's highly personal and distinctive blues. Charlie's new album, "I Got Something to Say" will certainly increase the number of Charlie's fans.

Charlie was born January 4, 1948, in Woburn, Massachusetts with his parents moving to West Medford, Massachusetts a couple of weeks later. His parents separated at the age of 2 and Charlie grew up in a succession of surrogate families with music being a main comfort for him. He served in the Army, seeing duty in Vietnam and then Germany. He first picked up the harmonica while in Army. After his discharge from the military in 1971, he found employment opportunities fairly limited, and started traveling around America, visiting cities like Nashville, Atlanta and St. Louis before landing in New York.

While playing on New York's streets, Charlie was filmed for a BBC television show and discovered by Dave Sax who was riding a Broadway bus when he saw Charlie playing on the streets. Sax produced “The Raw Harmonica Blues of Charlie Sayles" for Sax’s Dusty Road label and the 1000 copy pressing is now a rare collector's item. In 1975, the late Ralph Rinzler, organizer of the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folk Life, discovered Charlie and placed him on a New York bill with Pete Seeger and then on a variety of Festival appearances. Rinzler was one of those responsible for Charlie Sayles eventually ending up in Washington, D.C., and making the transformation from a free-wheeling street musician to leader of his own band. In the years since he has been breaking into D.C.’s club scene. It hasn't been easy as he worked small rooms, often for the door, and still played on the street, supplementing his income by teaching harmonica, first to inmates at D.C.’s Lorton Reformatory, and then  to a number of blues enthusiasts.

One of the first times this writer met Charlie was at a harmonica workshop the D.C. Blues Society had organized. He has had the pleasure of seeing Charlie at Washington area clubs like Fins (now Cowboy Cafe South), Afterwords, T.T. Reynolds or 15 Minutes and at a variety of events that the D.C. Blues Society produced, including the D.C. Blues Festival. Charlie launched the Blues Society's 'East of the River' concerts held among community groups in Anacostia part of Washington, and this writer remembers a resident of the housing complex near the park Charlie was playing at came on out and Charlie had him sit in on the melodica with the band. Charlie has never disappointed with his live performances, which includes a sprinkling in of harmonica blues classics from the second Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter in addition to his originals. He has garnered not only fans, but friends among the Washington blues community.

Which leads to the present album. Recorded at Solo Studios in Annandale, Virginia, near Washington, it was produced by D.C.’s most celebrated blues artist, Bobby Parker. Parker is another of Charlie's fans and friends and has played with Charlie now and then (for some of us not enough). With Bobby at the helm there is a bit more more body in the mix, and the backing is tighter. Bobby told me that this album takes Charlie Sayles up to another level. The recording may be tighter and cleaner, but Charlie's music maintains its raw edge.

Parker's hand is evident on the opening “I Got Something to Say.” Drummer, Daryl “Slam” Stewart from Deborah Coleman’s band, and bassist Anthony Gonzales, from the band of local R&B legend Phil Flowers, kick off a funky groove reminiscent of Parker's “Bobby-A-Go-Go,” before Sayles enters with some choice harp. Charlie sounds like he is trying to sing with his harp. It's a device frequently he uses beginning a song and contrasts with his solo playing. Another example of this is the intro to “Mississippi Saxophone,” where Charlie plays a riff that presages how he enunciates the phrase “Mississippi saxophone, saxophone.” Dig Deborah Coleman’s guitar on this track.

Charlie’s strongest songs often center around fractured relationships, usually involving someone betraying Charlie's trust like “Two-Timing Woman.” Even when Charlie sings how “I Love My Baby” he includes a plea for his girl to just treat him right. A different type of betrayal is dealt with in “Hey Joe,” which is not the song associated with Jimi Hendrix. Charlie has waiting for this Joe show up and repay the money Charlie lent him. Charlie’s patience is wearing thin and he’s packing some bill collecting gear.

In contrast, a good portion of this album is devoted to getting a funky groove down and getting people on the dance floor. “Mississippi Saxophone,” “Funky Sound,” and Well Now” are examples as the rhythm section get a groove cooking. “Mississippi Saxophone,” has been a favorite of Charlie's recent live performances as he sings about blowing his lonely little horn to make him feel good.

“Zydeco”, Charlie's celebration of the goods times associated with the Louisiana musical genre that has great popularity in Washington, is another high point here. It should be noted that the lyrics are Charlie's impression of zydeco as he does not actually play zydeco music. 22-year old Shawn Kellerman from Kitchener, Ontario, who counts Mel Brown among his influences, provides the hard-edged guitar here.

Also Charlie's harp is featured on two instrumentals, the moody “Little Walter Blues,” and the aptly-titled romp, "Screecher.” They provide additional samples of Sayle’s instantly recognizable harp playing. With only three albums over two decades, Charlie Sayles may not have recorded prolifically. However, he has not wasted his time in the studio. "I Got Something to Say will hopefully allow Charlie to make the next leap as a performer. He always puts out when he performs, just like he does here. He certainly has paid his dues and with his talent and originality, it is time he reaped some rewards.

This is from my draft for the liner notes for this album from 1995 or so. Here is Charlie performing "Zydeco." 


Friday, June 23, 2023

Robert Lockwood Jr. | Got To Find Me A Woman

Robert Lockwood Jr.
| Got To Find Me A Woman

It has been quite awhile since Robert Lockwood, Jr. had a new album, and for it to be on a major label makes it more welcome. There are guest appearances by Joe Louis Walker and B.B. King who each appear on two tracks. One surprise is that Gene Schwarz, Robert's long-time bassist was not on this session, replaced by Richard Smith, along with saxophonist, Maurice Reedus; harmonica player, Wallace Coleman; guitarist Charles ‘D.C.’ Carnes; pianist, Robert ‘Red Top’ Young; and drummer, Jimmy ‘Gator’ Hoare.

While Robert has previously recorded almost all of the songs here, the renditions here sound fresh, whether a solo version of Robert Johnson's 'Walking Blues,' or the band renditions of 'Take a Little Walk With Me' with Joe Louis Walker taking an incisive solo, or 'Little Boy Blue,' which, like 'Walkin’ Blues,' has some nice slide from Lockwood. Lockwood's rendition of Roosevelt Sykes’ 'Feel Like Blowing My Horn' is a duet with Walker, who also plays with Lockwood on the rendition of Leroy Carr’s 'How Long,' one of several tracks to sport some fine harp from Coleman.

Robert once kidded this writer during an interview for not remembering that Johnny Temple's big record was 'Big Legged Woman,' so it is surprising to find the song credited here to Charles Brown, and Johnny & Shuggie Otis. | don’t blame Robert, but rather blame whoever at Verve was responsible for the songwriting credits. Coleman’s harp is particularly outstanding on this selection. The longest track is 'My Daily Wish,' that Lockwood originally recorded with just Otis Spann on piano for the classic Candid album "Otis Spann is the Blues." Reedus, D.C. Carnes and Coleman all stretch out as Lockwood comps behind their solos as well as adding some tasty fills. Reedus stretches out on sax, and D.C. Carnes on six-string guitar with Lockwood comping behind both on twelve-string, as well as adding his characteristic fills.

King plays on the title track. It sounds like King’s guitar was overdubbed over the vocal and band track. This perhaps explains why the backing sounds a touch tentative. King takes the first two and closing solos, while D.C. Carnes takes a crisp, biting solo for the third break. Lockwood always has been a straight-forward singer, who eschewed any gimmicks or histrionics in his delivery. The vigor of his singing belies his years, and he is particularly effective with his casual approach on 'My Daily Wash.'

His off-the-cuff approach also works well on Paul Gayten’s, 'For You My Love' and Memphis Slim's 'Everyday | Have the Blues.' Both performances feature jazzy arrangements with bop voicings and sound very different from Lockwood’s earlier recordings of the songs. The freshness of the arrangements in part explains why Lockwood is so effective in performing songs that generally have become stale in far lesser hands. Lockwood takes fine solos on both tracks, which also showcase excellent piano from Young and saxophone from Coleman, and are perhaps the highpoints in a varied and consistently entertaining disc by one of the true legends of the blues.

This review appeared in 1998 in issue 230 of Jazz & Blues Report. I have made some minor spacing changes. I likely received a review copy from the record company.

Bobby Patterson Second Coming

I have been slow on writing new material, so here is a review from 1997,

Bobby Patterson
Second Coming
Ultrax / Ichiban

Bobby Patterson, who made some recordings for Ronn some years ago, has a new album out on the Ichiban distributed Proud/Ultrax. A singer and guitarist, Patterson’s vocals bear some resemblance to those of Bobby Parker. Patterson has produced a first rate album of modern soul-blues.

He shows himself to be a terrific vocalist as he digs into these songs, most of which are originals dealing with typical lyrical themes of back door men and relationships falling apart. More than one song finds Bobby working and slaving for his woman while it is the other man who gets the thrills. As Bobby sings on the opening "If He's Gettin’ the Thrills", let him pay the bills. Patterson sounds like the relationship just broke-up on "Even a Dog" and "All We Have in Common," standing out.

He also ably handles the philosophical, soulful ballad, "You Can't Steal Something." "Right Place, Wrong Time," is not the familiar song associated with Otis Rush but a Patterson original where he tells the story about going to a party where he finds another man making love with his wife. While Patterson plays guitar, it is not heavily featured here - although there is some nice guitar on "Keep Your Hand to Yourself," which has a nice funky groove as Patterson tells his friend that he doesn’t mind him keeping his eyes on Patterson’s babe, but he better keep his hands to himself. It may be Butch Bonner that is prominent on guitar here. Patterson also is heard on a fine interpretation of the Bobby Bland classic "I'll Take Care of You".

The studio bands heard provide strong backing, and while there is some synthesized strings and vocal choruses employed, they are not employed in a heavy-handed manner, but enhance Patterson’s
fervent, soulful singing. This is one of the best soul-blues releases I've heard recently.

This review originally appeared in the October 1997 (Issue 225) of Jazz & Blues  Report although I have reformatted it into paragraphs. I likely received a review copy from Ichiban. 


Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Jimmy Rushing The Bluesway Sessions

Jimmy Rushing
The Bluesway Collection
Charly (UK)

The present collection from English Charly puts into one double record package, the two ABC-Bluesway albums Rushing recorded in the sixties and these are among his last studio recordings. (He did record a later album for RCA) but show no diminution in his vocals. Ten titles come from a session that the late Oliver Nelson produced and include such notable sidemen as Clark Terry on trumpet, and fellow Basie
alumni Dickie Wells on trombone.

Nelson provided some interesting arrangements with a somewhat modernistic touch trying to provide a more up-to-date sound. Rushing is in heard on some standard fare including a swaggering ‘Everyday I Have the Blues’, "Berkeley Campus Blues" (an updating of “Harvard Blues” from Rushing days with Basie that also was an attempt at topicality with comments on then current student demonstrations and having the Berkeley Blues with Ronnie Reagan around the bend), and “You Can’t Run Around”
which features a nice trombone solo from Wells and some nice playing on the organ.

The remaining sides come from a session that Bob Thiele produced and included Dickie Wells,
tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate (another Basie alumni,) pianist Dave Frishberg, and guitarists Wally Richardson and Hugh McCracken. Rushing is in good form on his classic "Sent For You Yesterday", and their is some fine band work and ancxcellent Buddy Tate solo on "Tell Me I'm Not Too Late”. On
"Crying Blues”, the playing by one of the guitarists and Frishberg behind Rushing is splendid. The last selection "We Remember Pres" is an instrumental tribute to the great saxophonist Lester Young.

In summary, some very rewarding listening that I do not regret buying, and a release that those with a taste for swinging sounds would do well to check out. It is interesting that this was released on Charly as opposed to the sister label Affinity which specializes in jazz releases.

This review dates from 1986 or so when this vinyl reissue came out. I may have written this for Cadence  but am not positive.  You may find this on ebay or similar sources of used recordings. Here is "Everyday I Have the Blues.

I have 'retired' from writing reviews for publication, but I will try to rescue some of my older reviews as well as briefly comment on things that interest me in the blog in the future.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Delmark Blues Reissues

Here is a composite review of several Delmark Blues reissues that appeared in Issue 218 of the Jazz & Blues Report (1997). I likely received review copies from Delmark.Some of these may still be in print and others may be available used. Check out for availability on disc, vinyl and digital downloads.

These releases are among the latest recordings from Delmark Records’ back catalog to be issued on compact disc with additional tracks (including alternate takes and unissued songs) expanding each of these from their original vinyl format. 

Luther Allison’s first album, Love Me Mama (DE-625) will certainly be of great interest given Allison’s phenomenal resurgence in the past couple years. These 1969 recordings with bassist Mojo Elem, drummer Bob Richey, guitarist Jimmy Dawkins on rhythm, and saxophonist Jim Conley still sound fresh with the rawness and passion Allison brings to his performance. B.B. King's influence is highly evident from the opening Why | Love the Blues, a transformation of Why | Sing the Blues, and renditions of 4:00 O'Clock in the Morning, the title track (a version of Rock Me Baby) and You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now. But King’s stamp was more evident on Allison’s guitar and choice of material than his vocals, which this writer has always compared to the vocals of latter Elmore James, with strong renditions turned in of Dust My Broom, and The Sky is Crying. Allison’s experimentation with the wah wah pedal are intriguing in his exploration not only of their tonal palette, but use for a rhythmic springboard. Allison’s fans will definitely want these, but they hold up for more than historical value).

Jimmy Dawkins is represented by his third album, Blisterstring(DE-641), which adds pianist Sonny Thompson to Dawkins’ band that included Jimmy Johnson on rhythm guitar. Dawkins sings with as much passion here as on any recording he ever made, and the band is as good as he ever had with plenty of space for Dawkins gritty, trebly guitar with effective remakes of such blues classics as Feel So Bad, Blue Monday (the Smiley Lewis song), and Blues With a Feeling, along with an instrumental take of Ode to Billie Joe. Along with these is a fine original topical blues, Welfare Line. Several unissued titles fill out this session which is far better than Dawkins subsequent recordings over the past two decades.

Barrelhouse pianist Speckled Red is celebrated for his twenties recording of the bawdy The Dirty Dozens, along with some other celebrated recordings. He was Delmark’s first blues artist, and The Dirty Dozens (DE-601) makes available the label's first blues release. This is rough hewn barrelhouse and boogie woogie as Rufus Perryman (Red's real name) rocks the eighty-eights on new recordings of Right String, Wrong Yo Yo and Wilkins Street Stomp in addition to his signature song. Also included is his take on the classic Cow Cow Blues and the previously unissued numbers include a terrific take of Early in the Morning along with two alternate renditions of the Dozens that are raunchier than the issued version and are not suitable for airplay or young, impressionable children. While his timing occasionally was eccentric, he played with an irresistible drive and his exuberant vocals are reminiscent of the greatest of all blues pianists, Roosevelt Sykes.

Also for blues piano fans is the anthology Blues Piano Orgy (DE-626) which brings together selections by Red, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Curtis Jones and Otis Spann. The Spann track, Three-In-One Blues dates from the session that produced Junior Wells’ Southside Blues Jam and is a duet with drummer Fred Below on one of his last recordings. Sykes is heard on four numbers featuring his strong two-fisted playing a rendition of the dozens, Kickin’ Motor Scooter, while Sunnyland Slim bellows his vocals with his distinctive piano accompaniment, including a tasty rendition of one of his signature songs, Everytime | Get to Drinking. Little Brother Montgomery's selections mix stride and ragtime to his barrelhouse attack, and his classic No Special Rider is among the tunes reprised here. Two selections by Memphis Slim (not on the original album) were originally recorded for the United label with a band that included Matt Murphy's incisive guitar. The under-appreciated lyricist and singer-pianist Curtis Jones is heard on three numbers, including two of his signature pieces, Lonesome Bedroom Blues and Tin Pan Alley Blues. This album never has less than a genial quality to it and is a tasty sampler of some very significant blues pianists.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Larry Garner Baton Rouge

Larry Garner
Baton Rouge
Verve / Gitanes

| recall some statement by one of the new hot-shot teenage ‘blues’ guitarists out there responding to the question of how can he play the blues given his lack of experience by responding that it was hard being a teenager. Whether one takes this as another sign of the dumbing of America, one notes that while this act might get written up in People Magazine or whatever and be hyped by one of the Blues Brothers, that modern day minstrel act, Larry Garner, perhaps one of the most gifted singer-songwriters in the blues world today, can’t get his new Verve-Gitanes album, Baton Rouge, released in the United States. Available only overseas, | was lucky to find a copy.

Like his previous recordings have evidenced, Garner is able to draw on his experiences working in a chemical plant and raising his family and the experiences of others in his community to spin his stories and songs, whether singing about the Juke Joint Woman, or an addiction to video poker in New Bad Habit, with nice horns added. Musically, there is a similarity to the blues of Kenny Neal, although one might call Garner a bit leaner and more laconic in his attack. Garner is joined here by Larry McCray who adds his very insistent guitar and joins Garner with vocals on a couple of songs, including the amusing Blues Pay My Way, where Garner notes how he can’t fail as a musician or when he returns to the chemical plant, everyone will joke “We told you so,” and Airline Blues, where the two trade memories of missing their planes. The conversational quality of Garner's lyrics and musical approach unquestionably helped make it sound like the two had played together for years. 

Garner's back porch philosophizing hits strongest on The Road of Life, while he matches his anti-drug lyric about no one overdosing on the blues to a reggae groove on High on Music. The title song, Go To Baton Rouge, closes this album and is a travelogue about where to find the blues in Louisiana, and as he says, “Come to Baton Rouge if you are looking for the blues.” 

This is an album that deserves to be heard and made available in the US. Whether Polygram (corporate parent of Verve-Gitanes) will change its mind is unlikely, but at least they can make this an easier to find import.

This review originally appeared in the July-August 1997 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 223). I likely purchased it. As I type this blog entry, it is available although one might need to check out vendors of used records. Here is Go To Baton Rouge.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Jammed Together & St. Louis Jimmy

On the heels of their second batch of Original Blues Classics, Fantasy (under the guidance of Lee Hildebrand) has delved into the vaults of Stax Records to issue five albums of blues, soul and gospel. Of these Jammed Together (Stax MPS-8544) by Steve Cropper, Pops Staples and Albert King, is the only one that falls within Cadence’s coverage. Originally released (I believe) around 1970, this represented Stax’s attempt to hype their artists with a "Super Session’  type album combining three of the more noteworthy guitarists on their label on a bluesy program. (What’d I Say/ Tupelo/ Opus de Soul/ Baby What You Want Me To Do/ Big Bird/ Homer’s Theme/ Trashy Dog/ Don’t Turn Your Heater Down/ Water/ Knock on Wood) (40:16).

Three of the ten tracks are vocals with Aibert King taking a pleasant yocal on the opening Ray Charles classic, Pops Staples aptly handles the honors on John Lee Hooker ’s brooding “Tupelo” about floods in the Tupelo, Mississippi area, and Steve Cropper (best remembered for his associations with Otis Redding and Booker T.) sings (surprisingly well) on the soulful “Water." On these three selections as well as the other numbers, much space is given for the three guitarists to solo and trade licks. Like Super-Session and most albums of that ilk, this was directed at the “hard rock” audience that liked lots of flashy playing. Like most of those records, nothing here that is particularly memorable. A lot of flash, but little substance.

Even those Cadence readers with only a modest interest in blues will surely have heard of “Going Down Slow”, one of the most recorded blues songs of the past forty years. It was authored by James Oden who as St. Louis Jimmy recorded and performed extensively in the forties and early fifties with the likes of Roosevelt Sykes, Big Bill Broonzy, Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters. A car crash in 1957 left him with a stiff leg and his performing career slackened in the last years of his life. He did make an odd recording here and there, the most notable being a part of Otis Spann’s Candid sessions (originally issued on the Barnaby album Walking the Blues and more recently made available on Crosscut records), but otherwise was not as prominent as he had been.

Dog House Blues on Dutch AGB records (AGB 1701) collects 16 of his recordings (Going Down Slow/ Monkey Face Blues/ Poor Boy Blues/ Back on My Feet Again/ Nothing But Blues/ Soon Forgot You/ Strange Woman Blues/ One More Break/ Bad Condition/ Dog House Blues/ Biscuit Roller / I'm Sorry Now/ Shame On You Baby/ 1°11 Never Be Satisfied/ Drinkin’ Woman/ Why Work) and range from his first 1941 coupling of “Going Down Slow” to the wry Monkey Faced Blues” to "Why work” from 1953. With the exception of “Shame on You Baby" and “I’ll Never Be Satisfied”, which feature Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes is the pianist. Big Bill Broonzy contributes some nice electric guitar to “Poor Boy Blues, “Back on My Feet Again”,

“Nothing But Blues” and  Soon Forgot You”, while J.T. Brown is on alto saxophone and Willie Dixon is on bass on the title track, and Eddie Chamblee’s tenor is present on “Biscuit Roller” and “I’m Sorry Now".

Oden was a pleasing, somewhat nasal blues vocalist He was an exceptional writer of blues lyrics and he phrased his singing to give proper emphasis to his well crafted lyrics. The songs here include some real classics and provide numerous illustrations of Oden’s skill in turning out songs whose lyrics stick in one’s mind.

In addition to Oden, this album provides a generous helping of Roosevelt Sykes’ piano. Sykes was one of the greatest blues pianists and is heard here on many marvelous accompaniments. His relaxed two fisted down in the alley playing is the perfect backdrop for Oden’s singing. Given the quality of the playing and the material, there is much for the blues fan to discover here.

This album, like many recent European reissues of pre-war blues, presents songs chronologically. Often, this doesn’t make for a completely listenable blues reissue. Even though much of the album is in either a slow or a medium tempo, Sykes splendid, piano and the varying instrumentation on the tracks provides enough contrast so that listening isn’t tedious. Packaging is functional, with the liner notes taken from the comments of Oden and Sykes in Paul Oliver's book, Conversation With the Blues In summary, there is some very fine blues to be heard here.