Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Random Review #64 Various Artists - Expressin' The Blues

C10S11CD1 Brings me near the end of my CD collection and another compilation that could be filed under Q for quirky!

This compilation sits somewhere between novelty CD and historical document and I prefer to call it the later as without this CD a lot of the artists would never have received the acknowledgement that their  music even existed. The compilation was brought together by a guy called Timothy Duffy who appears to have travelled into the Deep South looking for blues singers in Juke Joints, drinking houses, people’s living rooms and even nursing homes to record artist who were passionate about the Blues. What we get is 21 artists, mostly playing either self written or traditional songs beautifully packaged with 2 booklets, one giving details of the artist and another documenting Blues music and culture in the Deep South. Both are visually stunning and full of information and truthfully the photograph on the front of the CD case is worth the cost alone!

So now that you bought the CD for the packaging what’s the music like? Well you have artists with names like Capt. Luke, Cootie Stark, Precious Bryant, and Bishop Dready Manning to start with. and I must also mention Neal Pattman a one armed harmonic player who lost his arm in a wagon wheel accident as a child and Willie Mae Buckner who is pictured with a huge snake draped round her neck and was found by Duffy dancing and singing on a chair in a drinking house when she must have been near 70!

The recording of the songs is first class and they don’t sound like field recording which is a real plus. Most are just the artist with their chosen instrument, usually guitar or harmonic and vary in quality from OK to brilliant. Cootie Stark has a full band for his track Metal Bottoms and it’s a great blues track which is fit for any album. (If I remember rightly Stark went on to release a full album and on this track I understand why) Other mentions must go to Essie Mae Brooks who sings unaccompanied for her composition Rain In Your Life, it is just gorgeous and you can feel a life full of pain in that one song. This track is followed by the only cover on the album with Capt. Luke singing Rainy Night In Georgia which is close to the original other than the fact that Luke has the deepest voice I have ever heard!

This album is really for Blues lovers rather than casually listeners but I have to say as much as I enjoyed listening to it, it’s not the strongest CD for material however it makes up for this in being a document of some artist who have being singing the Blues all their life out of a love for the music and a want for people to hear them rather than for any commercial gain, and in the world of commercialism we live in now that isn’t a bad thing.

Mark 6/10

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