Texas Down Home Blues 1948-1952

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Texas Down Home Blues 1948-1952

Postby blueswriter » Thu May 26, 2005 3:58 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-26-05 AT 12:16 PM (EST)]Various Artists
Texas Down Home Blues 1948-1952
Fremeaux (2003) FA 5062

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2 CDs, 36 tracks, 105 minutes. Highly recommended. Texas, once upon a time, was much more than the seemingly shallow breeding ground for blues it is now. The Lone Star State was peppered with small, shoestring labels and larger ones alike, all recording a wide cross-section of talent. While those days now seem to be little more than a distant and ever-fading memory, the incredible vintage Texas Blues recorded a half-century or more ago, brings those historical times into better view. Texas Down Home Blues 1948-1952 garners high points for gathering a dizzying array of artists that many might be unaware of. While some of the more familiar names (Lightnin' Hopkins/Mercy Dee Walton/Lil' Son Jackson/Lowell Fulson/Smokey Hogg) are well-represented on T-Model Blues, One Room Country Shack, Milford Blues, Double Trouble Blues, and Penitentiary Blues (respectively), the lesser-known artists are often just as striking as their highly noted counterparts. Guitarist Johnny Beck (The Blind Boy) is stunning for his rolling Locked In Jail Blues, Lavada Durst (Dr. Hepcat) is masterful on the humorous piano and drum led Hattie Green, and Wright Holmes is simply devastating on Good Road Blues with snorting vocals, over-amplified guitar, and a bizarre sense of phrasing and time. Lawyer Houston, a brilliant singer who recorded far too little (many here had the same unfortunate fate), dazzles the senses on Western Rider Blues with an infectious guitar groove, Buddy Chiles shows a strong affinity for Lightnin' Hopkins on his Mistreated Blues, and Texas Alexander delivers a highly rewarding version of Crossroads Blues. Rattlesnake Cooper's guitar (with Sonny Boy Davis on piano) is understated and superb on Lost Woman and Jesse James hands in Please Ma'am, Forgive Me with fine results. Others with much to offer sadly toiled in obscurity as far as their recording careers were concerned, but when given an opportunity to display their efforts, they managed to enter the history books with gritty performances; Willie Lane's Howling Wolf Blues, Ernest Lewis' Lou Della, and TNT Woman from Sonny Boy Holmes are all startling and highly deserving of attention. Frankie Lee Sims, a fairly well-known guitarist is wonderful on Don't Forget Me Baby with accompaniment from J.R. Perkins on steel guitar, vocalist L.C Williams, who recorded for Gold Star, Freedom, Sittin' In With, and Mercury, gets solid backing from Lightnin' Hopkins and Donald Cooks' simple upright bass for The Lazy J, while Jesse Thomas shows his deft guitar skills in fine fashion on the over-amplified and distorted Mountain Key Blues. Most of these recordings do indeed stem from Texas, but for the few that were cut in California, it's impossible not to hear the definitive Texas approach. More muscular efforts from Guitar Slim Green, Lee Hunter, Sam "Suitcase" Johnson, Manny Nichols, Luther Stoneham, the Sugarman, James Tisdom, Nat Terry, and Big Bill Dotson (among others) are included. Liner notes (in both French and English), short biographical passages on the artists, and complete session details round out the set nicely. If there's one minor drawback, it's the somewhat short playing time as discs can hold up to eighty minutes of music, and with more vintage Texas Blues available from Wright Holmes, Johnny Beck, Lawyer Houston, and others, the folks at Fremeaux might fare better filling their sets out with that in mind. All in all, there are 36 tracks of superlative music here, and points cannot be accurately counted for that. Highly recommended and well-worth tracking down.

© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
Last edited by blueswriter on Wed Jan 03, 2007 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby T-bone » Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:55 pm

Thanks for the review! Is Jesse Thomas playing solo or does he have a band backíng him?
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Postby jeffl » Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:12 pm

Thanks B-Dub! I thought of you jus' the other day when somebody asked about song authors.
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