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Ace (CDCHD1400)

Blues After Hours, I’m Still In Love With You, Texas Hop, When Darkness Falls, Central Avenue Blues, Austin Boogie, Long After Hours, Brand New Woman, Tired Of Travelin’, When A Man Has The Blues, Thinkin’ Of You, Some Rainy Day and many more...

This is the third in a long-promised trilogy of releases first dreamed up some twenty years ago when famed blues producer, Dick Shurman, teamed up with archivist and researcher Ray Topping to pitch their idea to Ace Records.

The first two volumes, The Modern Legacy (CDCHD632) and Blues Guitar Magic (CDCHD767), came out promptly afterwards to great critical and commercial acclaim. However, for reasons lost in the mists of time, the third volume never materialised.

Until now that is, as Ace’s continued mining of Modern Records extensive vaults finally offer up these 28 alternate takes of Pee Wee Crayton’s great early sides, all freshly dubbed from original acetates and sounding as fresh and enlivening as ever before.

And this really is thrilling stuff, full to the brim of Pee Wee’s trademark dazzling West Coast guitar across a mix of inventive instrumental boogies, emotional blues and soulful ballads. Made up of out-takes and distinctly different alternate versions to the issued sides on the first two volumes, these can be enjoyed by committed Pee Wee enthusiasts looking for a complete collection of his work and the merely curious yet to have any Pee Wee on their racks.

The undeniable influence of T-Bone Walker is of course all over these recordings. As with seemingly every other electric blues guitar player of the time, Pee Wee Crayton was heavily influenced by his fellow Texan and mentor, who had already made the journey to the West Coast and set the template that Pee Wee and many others went on to follow. While others may have gone on to greater renown and more successful careers, few created a body of recorded work that stands the test of time as well as this.

Sadly, Ray Topping does not survive to see the realisation of his and Dick Shurman’s original vision (having passed away in 2009). But this CD does now act as a worthy tribute to his persistence and taste. And there is even hope that Ace’s continued rooting around the Modern vaults may have unearthed enough material from Crayton’s later recordings to merit a fourth volume. We can only hope so, but let’s not be kept waiting for another twenty years, eh chaps!


Review Date: June 2014

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