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Wolf (120921)

Fireman Ring The Bell, Long Haired Doney, Walkin' Blues, Poor Black Mattie, Jumper Hangin' On The Line  (2 versions), Goin' Down South, Poor Boy, Skinny Woman, Bad Luck, Poor Black Mattie (2 takes), 44 Pistol, Rollin' And Tumblin', Long Haired Doney (2 takes), When My First Wife Left Me (2 takes), Poor Black Mattie, I Be's Troubled, Boogie Chillen, Interview.

Just why it's taken Wolf so long to issue this stuff is a mystery as it's the kind of material that complements anything RL Burnside recorded during the latter part of his life.  These tracks capture him playing acoustic and electric guitars on various back porches and barbecues and blues clubs in Coldwater, Holly Springs and Senatobia, Mississippi and, apart from a throbbing version of See My Jumper Hangin' On The Line which uses drums and bass, all are solo pieces.

Wolf Records found Burnside in 1975 when they taped three intense, brooding tracks that include John Lee Hooker's song Boogie Chillen with its dark vocals and vigorous, stabbing runs on the strings and a rough and ready version of I's Be Troubled that features some unexpectedly chilling slide.

The dozen tracks from 1989 find Burnside in top form capturing his deep Hill Country magic on the acoustic Long Haired Doney and the jumping rhythms of Poor Black Mattie before demonstrating his red hot electric slide guitar technique with a stellar performance of Walkin' Blues. The busy bustling noise of his backyard creates a nice down-home atmosphere for his half-spoken master work Goin' Down South  and then he breathes new life into 44 Pistol - a spirited re-make of the old Howlin' Wolf tune Forty Four Blues.

In 1991 Burnside was on the brink of super-stardom, thanks to his association with Fat Possum and his music developed a certain urgency that you hear in the drive and passion of his playing on Rollin' And Tumblin' with it's neatly paced rhythms and stinging slide licks. You get that strident confidence again in the stark but thrilling guitar work on When My First Wife Left Me.

I'm really enjoying this CD and find these intimate recordings as fascinating as any of his albums over the last 20 years. It's RL and Hill Country Blues at their best.


Review Date: August 2010

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