Eddie Boyd & Walter Davis

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Eddie Boyd & Walter Davis

Postby blueswriter » Mon May 23, 2005 8:00 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-23-05 AT 07:34 PM (EST)]I know - I'm late again - my apologies. I've received the new Johnny Roy & The RubTones CD, and if all goes according to plan, that should be posted shortly as well the new Diamonds In The Rough - Chicago Blues Harmonica Project from Severn featuring Dusty Brown, Little Addison, and others.

Thanks for your patience, and as always, stay tuned and continue offering feedback and suggestions. I don't have a complaint department as yet but I'm working on getting that off the ground for the not-too-distant future.

Thanks for your patience, and as always, stay tuned and continue offering feedback and suggestions. I don't have a complaint department as yet but I'm working on getting that off the ground for the not-too-distant future.


Eddie Boyd
And His Blues Band Featuring Peter Green
Gottdiscs (2004) CD008

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16 tracks, 52 minutes. Excellent. While the name Eddie Boyd isn't mentioned as often as a number of other Post-war Chicago pianists, there should be little question that Boyd was a highly captivating and solid blues artist in his own right. With a recording career that began as a session player for John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson and Jazz Gillum in 1945, Boyd's first recordings under his own name commenced in 1947. Working for Victor, JOB, Chess, Bea & Baby, Palos, and various other imprints into the 1960s, Eddie moved overseas making Belgium his home. This session was produced by Mike Vernon in London over the course of three dates in March of 1967 (originally appearing on a Decca LP) and is certainly another worthwhile entry in Boyd's catalog. Often maligned for their sometimes unsympathetic backing, the British players here (Peter Green, Aynsley Dunbar, John McVie, and Tony McPhee - among others) offer good support on more than half the tracks. McPhee offers some fine slide on two cuts (Dust My Broom and Save Her, Doctor), and Green's tasteful, spot-on guitar adds heat for two versions of Too Bad as well as Ain't Doin' Too Bad, Blue Coat Man, The Train Is Coming and Night Time Is The Right Time. The rhythm section of McVie and Dunbar (bass and drums respectively) keep things minimal and simple, but John Mayall's harp playing is little more than perfunctory on Key To The Highway and Pinetop's Boogie Woogie. Boyd excels on his few solo tracks; Unfair Lovers, Letter Missin' Blues and The Big Bell, although those with just a rhythm section behind him (Steak House Rock and Rack'Em Back) are just as solid. Eddie Boyd did fare better with Peter Green and a stripped-down version of Fleetwood Mac the following year on 7936 South Rhodes (another Vernon-produced session originally issued on Blue Horizon), and while that's a better set, Eddie is in potent form here.


Walter Davis
Don't You Want To Go
Acrobat (2003) 204

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17 tracks, 52 minutes. Recommended. Recordings by Walter Davis were certainly recognized by the public, and often sold in strong numbers in the Pre-war years, due to a lengthy association with the RCA Victor/Bluebird labels. This collection gathers a fine cross-section of tracks recorded between 1930 and 1952 with most of the focus leaning to sessions cut in the 1930s. Although Davis himself was an accomplished piano player by the age of eighteen, Roosevelt Sykes (who was responsible for discovering Davis in St. Louis) tackles the keyboard chores for the first four cuts; M & O Blues, That Stuff You Sell Ain't No Good, Howling Wind Blues, and L & N Blues. Although Big Joe Williams is suggested by some as the guitarist on a few 1935 sessions that produced Root Man Blues, Moonlight Is My Spread, Ashes In My Whiskey and the two-part Minute Man Blues, it sounds closer to the work of Henry Townsend, who had a long friendship with Davis. Five solo efforts by Davis easily show his piano skills on Think You Need A Shot, Let Me In Your Saddle, New Come Back Baby, Don't You Want To Go, and The Only Woman, a mournful minor-key outing which resurfaced in the Post-war years when Blue Smitty took credit for it in the form of Sad Story, a 1952 Chess recording. The final two tracks, Tears Came Rolling Down and What Your Troubles May Be were cut in St. Louis in 1952, and feature Townsend's distorted electric guitar in addition to Davis' piano and some tasteful tenor courtesy of John Moore. Walter Davis retired from music and worked as a night clerk at the Calumet Hotel, and later, the Albany Hotel, and took up preaching in and around St. Louis until his death in 1964. While the Document label offers a number of CDs covering Davis' career, this budget-priced offering is a fine introduction to his superb songwriting skills, rhythmic piano work, and a highly infectious vocal approach.

Ryan Hartt & The Blue Hearts
Yeah Man!
Far Tone (2005) FT-H62

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15 tracks, 49 minutes. Recommended. Ryan Hartt & The Blue Hearts, easily one of the East Coast's finest blues outfits, return with Yeah Man! following the 2003 release of Empty Wallet. Much like their initial effort, the new disc maintains an old-school approach and sound which recalls the heyday of Chicago Blues as much as it nods to a West Coast style. Thick, fat-toned harp and workmanlike vocals come courtesy of the band's frontman, Ryan Hartt, a player who's done his homework studying the efforts of Little Walter, George Smith, and Harmonica Slim, among others. Guitarist Eric Ducoff is another gem whose playing touches old-school masters like Bill Jennings as much as he's been influenced by the likes of Junior Watson and Rick Holmstrom, both who make appearances on this disc. Hartt originals like Rock All Night, Doubt My Love, and What's The Matter Baby simmer and smolder along with Ducoff's pen showing to fine effect on Two Gizzards And A Neck, a stumbling track co-written by the band's bassist Jeff Berg, but Ducoff's best effort may well sit in Deep To Left, a manic and crazed guitar instrumental which sounds like the long-lost Pat Hare in the here-and-now, and his Hangover Blues is a brilliant slow and brooding number. While creative originals are much of this outfit's make-up, they tackle Dave Bartholomew's Do Unto Others, Travis Blaylock's Drop Anchor, and the Pete "Guitar" Lewis/Johnny Otis chestnut Boogie Guitar with excellent results. Junior Watson steps in on three tracks, Rick Holmstrom appears on one, and Mark Stevens adds solid piano, while Nick Toscano nails the grooves from behind the drums. While the crew relied on the producing skills of Rick Holmstrom for their first effort, Ducoff handles the chores on Yeah Man! with the ears of a seasoned veteran. If you thought West Coast-styled blues only came from the well-known names many are familiar with, dig into Ryan Hartt & The Blue Hearts and find out what you've been missing. A masterful follow-up from a relatively new band to be reckoned with as they continue on their path of tearin' it up!

© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: Eddie Boyd & Walter Davis

Postby johnny66 » Wed May 25, 2005 11:06 pm

Unfortunately, my first exposure to Eddie Boyd was through the AFBF DVDs. His 'Five Long Years' is masterful, and it made me hunt down some more works of his.

Sadly, I keep coming across the lesser 'name' artists all the time - but money just doesn't allow me to follow up on them with a CD purchase. I'm currently chasing up some Josh White albums, and Big Joe Williams will be next. Then I'll get to Mr. Boyd.

Thanks for the review, Blueswriter! :)
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