THAT'S ALL RIGHT WITH ME -JUKE JOINT BLUES VOL 4 (4CD)
108 blistering slices of down-home blues and R&B including Lafayette Thomas, Willie Nix, Smokey Hogg, Frankie Lee Sims, Lazy Lester, John Brim, Lightnin' Slim, Beverley Scott, The Leap Frogs, Phillip Walker, Rattlesnake Cooper, Lonesome Sundown, Left Hand Charlie, Tony Hollins & more...
The latest in JSP's tremendous ‘Juke Joints Blues' series and no sign yet of the dreaded Law Of Diminishing Returns. If you loved the last three in the series (JSP7796, JSP4213 and JSP77150), then I can report that the JSP cupboard is far from bare. In fact, a real case could be made that this is actually the best yet in the series!
A strong claim I know but the evidence to support it is laid out in front of me; 4 complete CDs containing a whole slew of raw, ragged and exciting late-40s and early-50s blues and R&B from the southern states of America as would have been heard on the jukebox (or from a live band if you were lucky) in the juke joints and taverns of the period.
As on the previous volumes, there is a decent smattering of well-known artists to offer initial comfort that you are on safe ground. Lightnin Slim's I'm Him enters the fray early in the set and offers an archetypical reminder that Otis Hicks at his very best was surely just about as good a down-home blues singer as there has been. With Lonesome Sundown and Lazy Lester also in attendance on particularly strong cuts, the remarkable Louisiana swamp blues sound, as popularised by Excello, is strongly represented here. But there is a admirable stretch of geographical coverage and regional flavours contained within these four CDs. On the first CD alone you get the formative Chicago blues sound from Tony Hollins' influential Crawlin' King Snake (with Sunnyland Slim on lovely rolling piano), knock-out Memphis blues from L.B. Lawson on the bouncy Can't Love Me And My Money Too and Willie Nix's Let's Take A Little Walk (featuring Walter Horton blowing some tasty harp and Willie Johnson riffing away on guitar as he would also be doing at this time for Howlin' Wolf). Elsewhere, Cousin Leroy's stunning highlight of Highway 41, recorded in New York in 1957 (with Champion Jack Dupree on piano), employs the crazy riff that Bo Diddley later popularised on Diddy-Wah-Diddy, and King Charles barely-controlled 1954 instrumental Bop Cat Stamp clearly is stomping down the path toward emergent rock and roll.
And as well as all of the souped-up, high voltage rocking cuts that road-mapped the future direction of blues and rock and roll, there are also superb examples of already established country blues stylings, such as the admirable Texas blues of Luther Stoneman on January 11 1949 Blues and James Tisdom's bittersweet Last Affair Blues.
The long and short of it is there are simply too many great pieces of music contained here to spend any more time writing about it. Right now, I could be listening instead to Bob Gandy's riotous I Believe Yo' Got A Sidekick or The Leap Frogs seductive Dirty Britches. Suffice to say, each of the previous box sets in the Juke Joint Blues series quickly became big, big sellers and, if there is any justice left in this crazy world, this will continue with this glorious addition. Let's just hope there are more to follow!
Review Date: August 2013