You Better Run: The Essential Junior Kimbrough
One could easily change the title of this record around to read “Junior Kimbrough is Essential.” Kimbrough, along with fellow growlers such as R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford, have put the Fat Possum label and Mississippi on the map as the home of some of the only necessary and vital blues being released today. Of them all, Junior Kimbrough makes the strongest case as a pure innovative stylist. His hypnotic, primal sound sinks over you like a humid night and once heard is rarely forgotten. Iggy Pop used this stuff when filming The Crow to get himself in the mood, so that should give you some indication as to the sort of stuff we are speaking of here. Owing a musical nod to the one chord minimalism of John Lee Hooker at points, Kimbrough is not flash. He is not the rush of a tidal wave against a building, but rather the slow drip of a leaking pipe that over time makes your house collapse. This compilation, recorded in large part at Kimbrough’s bar “Junior’s Juke Joint” (how could it be named anything else?) in Chulahoma, Mississippi is a good primer to his sound and vision. Starting off with a rare cut from 1969, “Release Me,” recorded with rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, and continuing through 11 more cuts of guttural blues stomp, this record is fine stuff. A bit unsettling if you have never heard him before — there is little sugarcoating on these tracks. Musically it is raw, open constructions, and lyrically, well… take the title cut, “You Better Run,” for example. What starts as a description of what seems to be a rape in progress weaves into a type of love song — a type not often heard in any medium, much less Delta blues music in this day and time. Junior Kimbrough’s music takes you places you might not be comfortable visiting, but you’ll never regret getting in the passenger seat and letting him drive. Not for the weak at heart, or the House Of Blues-style 12-bar dilettantes. This is blues music that gives you hangovers, puts mud under your fingers, and leaves a lingering taste of grit in your mouth.
Fat Possum Records: http://www.fatpossum.com