DVD Reviews...

Your chance to write big-time blues reviews. Only two rules: First, if you're connected to the band or artist, go to Shameless Promotion; Second, don't write a book -- keep it relatively short and simple, no 1,000+ word epics.

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DVD Reviews...

Postby b dub » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:45 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Dec-22-04 AT 03:33 PM (EST)]Blues Legends - Memphis Slim & Sonny Boy Williamson
Live In Europe
Hip-O (2004) 3135-09


http://www.totaldvd.com.au/DVDProduct/I ... sblues.jpg

B&W - 19 tracks. Approximately 60 minutes. There's a wealth of blues available today in DVD format from a variety of sources, but the goldmine from Experience Hendrix Productions and the Hip-O label has been staggering, and it seems as if there's plenty more coming. August of 2003 saw the release of the first two volumes of The American Folk Blues Festival while October of last year delivered the initial Blues Legends release - that of Freddie King in Europe, and August of 2004 witnessed a third volume of AFBF performances on DVD, as well as a new Blues Legends - Memphis Slim & Sonny Boy Williamson compilation. As with their previous DVD releases, Experience Hendrix and Hip-O have maintained the high standards we've come to expect, and this latest treasure is another winner from start to finish. Ten of the performances here were recorded in Brussels in 1963 (for a television show called Jazz Prisma) while the artists were on tour with The American Folk Blues Festival and feature Memphis Slim at the piano backed by Matt Murphy's brilliant guitar and the rock steady drumming of Bill Stepney, as well as the tall and buzzard-like Sonny Boy Williamson displaying his harmonica prowess. As with most the vignettes released so far, the backdrop is a 'staged' set-up, this time, a mock nightclub with a gathering of hipsters and well-dressed patrons attending. Memphis Slim is superb (as is the small band) doing an assortment of songs that were synonymous with his name; The Blues Is Everywhere, All By Myself, and Wish Me Well (among others), all with his booming voice and rumbling piano well to the fore. Matt Murphy is as much the star in Slim's performances as the piano-playing frontman handing in both riveting and well-spaced solos, and is especially convincing with his own Matt's Guitar Boogie. From the same taping, Sonny Boy Williamson steps up to a microphone offering I'm A Lonely Man, Keep It To Yourself, Your Funeral And My Trial, and a gripping solo rendition of Bye Bye Bird, where he slips his trusted harmonica into his mouth and plays without the use of his massive hands. Slim gets another pair following Sonny Boy with a powerful Rockin' The House and I'll Just Keep Singing The Blues from 1962 and '63 respectively (these are from AFBF performances although not issued on any of the previous DVDs), and Sonny Boy puts forth another three; Who's Gonna Take Care Of You, It's Raining Outdoors, and JFK Blues. These songs are from a short film shot in Sweden, and although Williamson is up to his usual level of capturing your attention, he was unfortunately saddled with a guitarist and bass player who seem quite unsure of what to play. Another minor bump is Mae Mercer's delivery of Careless Love from the 1965 AFBF tour; her voice is strong and she's ably backed by the cream of Chicago Blues players (Sonny Boy, Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, and Clifton James) but her stage presence was, at best, non-existent based on this clip, and her Frankenstein-esque poses might make for slightly uncomfortable viewing. The true bonus footage in this DVD comes in the form of Otis Spann at Newport in 1960 doing three heavy-handed instrumentals, Boogie Woogie Blues, Slow Sweet Blues, and St. Louis Blues supported by James Cotton, Pat Hare, Andrew Stephenson, and Francis Clay. While these are somewhat challenged (aurally and visually when compared to the rest of the material), Spann is in brilliant form with crashing chords, rapidfire clusters of seriously blued notes, and rumbling bass figures that add further proof to the claim of many that he was the flat-out best piano player Chicago Blues ever knew. Additional bonus features include photo galleries of Slim and Sonny Boy, and again, detailed liner notes and dates accompany the DVD. Considering the historical aspect, the few potholes don't detract at all from what should be essential viewing for all blues aficionados.



© 2004 by Craig Ruskey

VARIOUS ARTISTS
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 - Volume Three
Hip-O DVD (2004) 2937-09

http://www.reelinintheyears.com/pix/afbfdvd3.jpg

B&W - 18 tracks, approximately 70 minutes. Absolutely essential. Following up with the first two commercially authorized Hip-O releases of The American Folk Blues Festival in DVD format, the third volume is another essential addition to any personal blues library. Performances include Big Mama Thornton kicking off the proceedings with a fine version of Hound Dog with Buddy Guy providing some riveting guitar, Roosevelt Sykes sitting alone at the piano for a storming Gulfport Boogie, Buddy Guy's funky Out Of Sight, and Doctor Ross clanging his way through a motivated Feel So Good. Big Joe Turner's Flip, Flop And Fly seems somewhat off kilter with the band never quite catching fire, but Skip James is stunning (All Night Long and Crow Jane), Bukka White roars (Got Sick And Tired), and Son House is marvelous (Death Letter Blues). Hound Dog Taylor (Wild About You) and Koko Taylor (Wang Dang Doodle) are both joined by Little Walter on harp, who looks quite healthy despite it being about a year before his death, while Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee are featured on three cuts (Stranger Blues/Burnt Child/Gonna Move Across The River) before a finale with Helen Humes (The Blues Ain't Nothing But A Woman) assisted by T-Bone Walker, Memphis Slim, Sonny and Brownie, and others. The bonus tracks are Earl's Boogie from Earl Hooker while the pair of tracks from Muddy Waters (Long Distance Call/Got My Mojo Working) are actually not AFBF footage. One minor quibble is that Muddy's Long Distance Call isn't complete and it cuts in mid-song. Rob Bowman's liner notes are detailed and informative (there's also a hint of another upcoming volume), and the DVD also features previously unseen photos. Superb quality!

http://www.jimi-hendrix.com/ehrecords/memphisslim.html

© by 2004 by Craig Ruskey
b dub
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RE: DVD Reviews...

Postby jaybird » Thu Dec 23, 2004 3:44 pm

Yo BW,

Nice to have your around again, but bad for my wallet. Oh no!! a vol. 3 AFBF dvd with footage of Hound Dog Taylor and possibly a vol 4, gonna have to own them. Hopefully someone will give me a Amazon gift certificate.

Have you gotten a listen to the John Lee Hooker, Jack O Diamond 1949 recordings yet, and if so what do you think?? Got that one on my list too.

Again, nice to see you back,

Jaybird
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RE: DVD Reviews...

Postby doc williamson » Thu Dec 23, 2004 4:20 pm

Welcome back BW.

Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson and Otis Spann all on one DVD! I have to get it. Thanks for your review.
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RE: DVD Reviews...

Postby b dub » Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:53 pm

Thanks guys... glad to be back among the great crew on the Big Road.
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RE: DVD Reviews...

Postby bosco » Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:46 pm

Fine work BW, it's great to have your reviews back on the BigRoad!

These are both must-haves and have been added to the list.

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