Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Fred McDowell - Mississippi Delta Blues (Good Blues US 1964)

Size: 150 MB
Bitrate: 256
Found from my Private Collection
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

As the period of the Blues Revival began to fade, notably with the emergence of British and contemporary Folk artists who drew their influences from the treasures of the legendary Bluesmen, it was clear that the Blues was about to experience new adventures. Today we are going to talk about an important and pioneering figure of the Hill Country Blues, with Mr. Mississippi Fred McDowell. To first tell you a few words about this musical style, Hill Country Blues originated in northern Mississippi, appeared and defined in the 60s as a mix of Delta Blues, Country and West African sounds. From its less conventional and anesthetic form, Hill Country Blues exudes a certain purity through an energetic groove. Going unnoticed at first, because often too much reserved for something local and rural, from the far north of Mississippi, this musical style became something traditional, before it was an influence on some artists of the 90's/2000's when the Garage Rock Revival period appeared. Fred McDowell was obviously not the only local artist to define this new musical style, but he became the emblematic figure as early as 1964 based on the history and legacy he left behind.

Born in 1906 in Tennessee, he has been known for his retrospective fame, based on the fact that he was the pioneer of the new Blues movement and also thanks to his masterpiece Do Not Play No Rock 'n' Roll released in 1969. Unfortunately he didn't really enjoy his recognition, because McDowell left us in 1972 because of cancer. This man will forever remain a blues legend who is categorized as a historical artist who never landed in the homes of popular listeners, a job reserved for connoisseurs and historians. While losing his parents at a very young age, McDowell first gave up farming, the family business, for the food industry. Music was originally a passion that he exercised on weekends or evenings to make a few extra pennies. He also learned to play the guitar by himself. It was not until the Blues Revival at the end of the 50s that he had the chance to be recorded in the studio, he was then over 40 years old, which is not really a surprise for the bluesmen of that time. Thanks to the Blues Revival, Fred McDowell managed to become a "popular" artist in the reduced folkloric sphere. He took part in a few American compilations and tours/festivals. The exact origin of Hill Country Blues is difficult to put in context for 2 reasons. The first one is that Hill Country Blues had to be built locally over several years, 1964 remains the symbolic date of Fred McDowell's first album. And the second reason is that legend has it that Fred McDowell never really changed his way of doing blues, even though he certainly made it evolve, he was capable of great musical openness and remarkable versatility.

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But like everything else, there have to be some milestones in the history of Hill Country Blues, which brings us to 1964 and the album which is ironically called Delta Blues. In fact, Hill Country Blues was so familiar to Delta Blues that it is sometimes difficult to put the right label on it. The complete album is nowadays almost impossible to find on any platform, so you have to search the tracks one by one, because this one is one of the pearls lost by history (you will find most of them on the You Gotta Me compilation). Released by the label Arhoolie Records, created in 1960 in the middle of the Blues/folk revival period, which included mostly roots artists, Delta Blues are composed of mostly traditional songs, arranged and reworked by McDowell. McDowell, who also had alaise in both cases, alternates between electric and acoustic, with his famous slide guitar and his multiple techniques. His deep and percussive voice emanates all the rurality from which he comes from. There is this simple, sincere side which is articulated on a frantic instrumental rhythm that complements perfectly his singing. What I also love about this kind of artist and dusty record is precisely this rustic and authentic effect that offers an original flavor that is difficult to find today "because of" the technological and material advances of our contemporary production. [DoubleZ]

Track listing
01. Write Me a Few Lines
02. Louise
03. I Heard Somebody Call
04. 61 Highway
05. Mama Don't Allow Me
06. Kokomo Blues
07. Fred's Worried Life Blues
08. You Gonna Be Sorry
09. Shake 'Em on Down
10. My Trouble Blues
11. Black Minnie
12. That's Alright
13. When I Lay My Burden Down

14. Fred's Rambling Blues [bonus track]
15. Don't Look for Me on a Sunday [bonus track]
16. Good Morning Little School Girl [bonus track]
17. Little Girl, Little Girl, How Old Are You [bonus track]
18. Drop Down Mama [bonus track]
19. Early This Morning [bonus track]
20. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning [bonus track]
21. Get Right Church [bonus track]
22. I'm Going Over the Hill [bonus track]
23. Amazing Grace [bonus track]

1. Fred
2. Fred
3. Fred

Earl Hooker - 2 Bugs and A Roach (Very Good Blues US 1969)

Size: 125 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

Earl Hooker's Two Bugs and a Roach is a varied lot, with vocals from Hooker, Andrew Odom, and Carey Bell in between the instrumentals, all cut in 1968. All in all, it's one of the must-haves in this artist's very small discography -- a nice representative sample from Chicago's unsung master of the electric guitar, including the title track, "Anna Lee," and the atmospheric instrumental, "Off the Hook." 

For a compact disc reissue, Arhoolie added some tracks to the original lineup, including two tracks from stray sessions in late 1968 and July, 1969, along with four very early sides probably recorded in Memphis in the company of Pinetop Perkins, Willie Nix, and an unknown bass player. Of these, "Guitar Rag" is the least together, hampered by a bass player who can't find the changes, but "I'm Going Down the Line" and "Earl's Boogie Woogie" are both top-notch uptempo boogies full of fleet fingered soloing. "Sweet Black Angel" was the A-side of a stray single from the early '50s and appears to be from another session, although it's an excellent example of Hooker playing in the Robert Night Hawk style.

Earl Hooker (January 15, 1929 – April 21, 1970) was an American Chicago blues guitarist, perhaps best known for his slide guitar playing. Considered a "musician's musician", Hooker performed with blues artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells, and John Lee Hooker (a cousin) as well as fronting his own bands. An early player of the electric guitar, Hooker was influenced by the modern urban styles of T-Bone Walker and Robert Nighthawk. As a band leader, he recorded several singles and albums, in addition to recording with well-known artists. His "Blue Guitar", a popular Chicago area slide-guitar instrumental single, was later overdubbed with vocals by Muddy Waters and became the popular "You Shook Me".

In the late 1960s, Hooker began performing on the college and concert circuit and had several recording contracts. Just as his career was on an upswing, Earl Hooker died in 1970 at age 41 after a lifelong struggle with tuberculosis. His guitar playing has been acknowledged by many of his peers, including B.B. King, who commented: "to me he is the best of modern guitarists. Period. With the slide he was the best. It was nobody else like him, he was just one of a kind".

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Around 1946, Earl Hooker traveled to Helena, Arkansas where he performed with Robert Nighthawk. While not booked with Nighthawk, Hooker performed with Sonny Boy Williamson II, including on his popular Helena KFFA radio program King Biscuit Time. Hooker then toured the South as a member of Nighthawk's band for the next couple of years. This was his introduction to life as an itinerant blues musician (although he had earlier run away from home and spent time in the Mississippi Delta). In 1949, Hooker tried to establish himself in the Memphis, Tennessee music scene, but was soon back on the road fronting his own band. By the early 1950s he returned to Chicago and performed regularly in the local clubs. This set the pattern that he repeated for most of his life: extensive touring with various musicians interspersed with establishing himself in various cities before returning to the Chicago club scene.

In 1952, Earl Hooker began recording for several independent record companies. His early singles were often credited to the vocalist he recorded with, although some instrumentals (and his occasional vocal) were issued in Hooker's name. Songs by Hooker and with blues and R&B artists, including Johnny O'Neal, Little Sam Davis, Boyd Gilmore, Pinetop Perkins, The Dells, Arbee Stidham, Lorenzo Smith, and Harold Tidwell were recorded by such labels as King, Rockin', Sun, Argo, Veejay, States, United, and C.J. (several of these recordings, including all of the Sun material, were unissued at the time). The harmonica player, Little Arthur Duncan, often accompanied Hooker over this period.

Among these early singles was Hooker's first recorded vocal performance on an interpretation of the blues classic "Black Angel Blues". Although his vocals were more than adequate, they lacked the power usually associated with blues singers. Hooker's "Sweet Angel" (1953 Rockin' 513) was based on Robert Nighthawk's 1949 "Black Angel Blues" and showed that "Hooker had by now transcended his teacher". (B.B. King later had a hit in 1956 with his interpretation, "Sweet Little Angel".) One of Hooker's most successful singles during this period was "Frog Hop", recorded in 1956 (Argo 5265). The song, an upbeat instrumental, showed some of his T-Bone Walker swing-blues and chording influences, as well as his own style.

Hooker continued touring and began recording for Cuca Records, Jim-Ko, C.J., Duplex, and Globe. Several songs recorded for Cuca between 1964 and 1967 were released on his first album The Genius of Earl Hooker. The album was composed of instrumentals, including the slow blues "The End of the Blues" and some songs which incorporated recent popular music trends, such as the early funk-influenced "Two Bugs in a Rug" (an allusion to his tuberculosis or "TB"). Hooker experienced a major tuberculosis attack in late summer 1967 and was hospitalized for nearly a year.

When Hooker was released from the hospital in 1968, he assembled a new band and began performing in the Chicago clubs and touring, against his doctor's advice. The band, with pianist Pinetop Perkins, harmonica player Carey Bell, bassist Geno Skaggs, vocalist Andrew Odom, and steel-guitar player Freddie Roulette, was "widely acclaimed" and "considered [as] one of the best Earl had ever carried with him". Based on a recommendation by Buddy Guy, Arhoolie Records recorded an album by Hooker and his new band. Two Bugs and a Roach was released in spring 1969 and included a mix of instrumentals and vocals by Odom, Bell, and Hooker. For one of his vocals, Hooker chose "Anna Lee", a song based on Robert Nighthawk's 1949 "Annie Lee Blues". As he had done earlier with "Sweet Angel", Hooker acknowledged his mentor's influence, but extended beyond Nighthawk's version to create his own interpretation. The "brilliant bebop[-influenced]" instrumental "Off the Hook" showed his jazzier leanings. Two Bugs and a Roach was "extremely well-received by critics and the public" and "stands today as [part of] Hooker's finest musical legacy."

Recorded November 12, 14 & 15, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois 

01. Anna Lee   06:30 
02. Off the Hook   03:54 
03. Love Ain't a Plaything   04:58 
04. You Don't Want Me   05:16 
05. Two Bugs and a Roach   04:19 
06. Wah Wah Blues   04:36 
07. You Don't Love Me   05:37 
08. Earl Hooker Blues   05:14 

Bonus Tracks
09. Take Me Back To East St. Louis  04:13   
10. New Sweet Black Angel  05:14 
11. Little Carey's Jump  03:52 
12. Original Sweet Black Angel  03:11 
13. Earl's Boogie Woogie  02:37 
14. Guitar Rag  02:55 
15. Going On Down The Line  02:21

1. Earl
2. Earl
3. Earl

Lil Son Jackson - Selftitled (Great Blues Album US 1960)

Size: 91.2 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

Melvin "Lil' Son" Jackson (August 16, 1915, Tyler, Texas - May 30, 1976, Dallas) was an American blues guitarist. He was a contemporary of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Jackson's mother played gospel guitar, and he played early on in a gospel group called the Blue Eagle Four. He trained to be a mechanic and did a stint in the Army during World War II, then decided to pursue a career in blues music. He recorded a demo and sent it to Bill Quinn, the owner of Gold Star Records, in 1946. Quinn signed him to a recording contract and released "Freedom Train Blues" in 1948, which became a nationwide hit in the U.S. He recorded for Imperial Records between 1950 and 1954, both as a solo artist and with a backing band. His 1950 tune "Rockin' and Rollin" was recast by later musicians as "Rock Me Baby".

He was hurt in a car crash in the middle of the 1950s and gave up his music career, returning to work as a mechanic. In 1960 he released albums for Arhoolie and Limelight Records, but he did not make a major comeback in the wake of the blues revival. He died of cancer in 1976 in Dallas, at the age of 60.

B.B. King covered Jackson's "I Got to Leave This Woman", on his 2000 album, Makin' Love Is Good for You. Eric Clapton covered Jackson's "Travelin' Alone", on his 2010 album, Clapton.

JACKSON, MELVIN [LIL' SON] (1915–1976). Blues singer and guitarist Melvin (Lil' Son) Jackson was born near Tyler, Texas, on August 16, 1915. Jackson's father, Johnny Jackson, was a singer and musician who taught his young son to play the guitar; his mother, Ivora Allen, played gospel guitar. Lil' Son grew up near Barry, Texas, on his grandfather's farm and listened to records of Texas Alexander, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Lonnie Johnson. As a child he often sang and performed in the nearby Holiness church choir.

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As a young adult during the Great Depression he quickly became dissatisfied with the harsh life of a sharecropper. After running away to Dallas he formed a spiritual group, the Blue Eagle Four. Throughout the 1930s the band played for local churches, parties, and family get-togethers. Jackson was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. He served with the Quartermaster Corps in England, France, and Germany. After the war he returned to work in Dallas, where he cut a cheap demo record that he sent to Gold Star Records owner Bill Quinn in Houston. Quinn signed Jackson to a record contract. Starting in 1948 Jackson cut several records for Gold Star and then for Imperial Records. A few of his recordings had some regional success in Texas and on the West Coast. His 1948 song "Freedom Train Blues" made the R&B Top 10.

In 1956 he was involved in a serious automobile accident. After recovering from his injuries he retired from recording and performing to work as a mechanic in a scrapyard. In 1960, however, he was "rediscovered" by California producer Chris Strachwitz, who was on a field trip through Texas and Louisiana looking for talent. Strachwitz persuaded him to come out of retirement and record some of his old songs. Jackson recorded the album Lil Son Jackson for Strachwitz's Arhoolie label in 1960. He followed that up with another album in 1963 on the Houston-based Ames label. That album included newer versions of several of his older cuts, including "Gambling Blues," "Cairo Blues," and "Roberta Blues." Jackson retired permanently in the mid-1960s. He died of cancer in Dallas on May 30, 1976, and was buried in Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in that city. He was survived by his wife and three sons.

01. Blues Come To Texas
02. Cairo Blues
03. Ticket Agent
04. Louise Blues
05. Sugar Mama
06. The Girl I Love
07. Santa Fe Blues
08. Turn Your Lamp Down Low
09. Groundhog Blues
10. Gambler Blues
11. Charley Cherry (take 1)
12. Charley Cherry (take 2)
13. West Dallas Blues
14. Rollin' Mill Went Down
15. Red River Blues   
16. Roberta Blues

17. Buck Dance
18. I Walked From Dallas
19. Rock Me
20. Johnnie Mae