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FRANKIE LEE SIMS & MERCY DEE WALTON

MASTERLY TEXAS BLUES (2CD box)

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JSP (JSP4217 )

If you know anything about Texas blues, you'll be thrilled to hear that Frankie Lee Sims portion of this 2CD set contains all twenty of his Specialty recordings from 1953-54 and the nine Vin and Ace tracks from 1957.

A cousin of Lightnin' Hopkins, Frankie Lee played the Texas blues with ease, using the electric guitar to slam out long stinging runs and clanging chords on the solos while hollerin' out the lyrics with one of the best voices in the blues. Who can resist such classic sides as the low-down dirty bar-room She Likes To Boogie Real Low - a rocker which is filled with some of the nastiest electric guitar ever heard in the 50s, or his big hit Lucy Mae Blues with it's plangent guitar lines and unconventional rhythm. He re-recorded this as What Will Lucy Do for Ace in 1957 and it's a harder, sharper version riddled with tough sheet metal guitar-work and even nastier vocals. All 29 tracks are diamonds, don't miss Frankie Lee Sims!

Texas blues piano man Mercy Dee Walton had a prolific recording career from 1949 when he recorded the weirdly confident G.I. Fever with it's strange but fascinating spot of scat singing on the opening line of every verse. Then it was down to seriously contemplative blues that, for the most part, dealt with stubborn women, ugly women, stupid women, too-smart women and (surprise surprise...) women walking out the door. Mercy Dee had troubles with women alright but there's no doubt he was an excellent song writer and his material had an originality that must have driven his contemporaries crazy. His biggest hit was One Room Country Shack, a sad sack of loneliness and despair which hit the right nerve in Mose Allison who made the song his own four years after Mercy Dee recorded it for Specialty in 1952. One of the highlights of this CD is Walton's rockin' reply to Chuck Berry's Maybelline. Come Back Maybelline is a fast rocker based on Berry's style with tons of bootin' piano and some pretty snazzy playing by an unknown guitarist. Although it's completely out of place with Mercy Dee's deep blues it's still top class stuff.

This is an excellent 2CD set that presents two of Texas's best musicians at the top of their game.

 

Review Date: September 2009

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