Music Reviews

Not the Same Old Blues Crap Vol. 2

Various Artists

Fat Possum

Longtime readers of this rag know that I don’t suffer fools gladly. Hell, I don’t generally suffer them at all. If your release sucks, I generally ignore it. But when someone regurgitates a lame ass blues record, I call ‘em on it. Please, if you’re 17 and white, don’t send your CDs to me. I won’t be kind.

But when something good comes along to add to the luster of one of America’s few native art forms, the blues, I gotta give it up and tell the assembled masses the what-for. The best blues label in America, Fat Possum (an offshoot of the nifty punk warehouse Epitaph), rolls out another compilation of nasty, grinding, damn-sure-hope-my-wife-don’t find-out blues. Featuring artists such as the legendary R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, and the sadly departed Scott Dunbar, Junior Kimbrough, and Asie Payton, these 12 cuts go a long way to clearing the air of the stench left by years worth of “House of Blues” gagfests. Hell, “I Feel Good Again,” by Junior Kimbrough with rockabilly wildman Charlie Feathers, is enough to erase folks like Kenny Wayne Vaughn – oops, I mean Shepard – off the map.

With the exception of labels such as Fat Possum, and a few choice reissues from the majors, the blues is pretty much dead in this country. John Lee Hooker’s passing takes another warrior off the front lines; how many of you reading this had a Hooker CD at hand to play when you heard the news? Not many, which is a damn shame. I mean, I keep somewhat up with this stuff, and I didn’t know Kimbrough died in 1998. I feel ashamed of myself. Even worse, reading the liner notes enclosed about one of my favorite cuts on the record, King Ernest’s version of Tom Waits’ “House Where Nobody Lives,” I learn that he died on the highway a few days after finishing his only album, 2000’s Blues Got Soul. These men, and this form of musical expression, deserve better than ignorance and Vegas. Get off your ass and listen, and try and give something back to the ones who went before.

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