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Various Artists: Murder. Songs From The Dark Side Of The Soul (2010)

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Various Artists: Murder. Songs From The Dark Side Of The Soul How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Themed compilations such as Murder. Songs From The Dark Side Of The Soul afford opportunity to hear just how diverse a range of interpretations a theme can provoke. Here the title is self-explanatory and that element of diversity exists in abundance.

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II
Sonny Boy Williamson II
1897 - 1965
harmonica
's "Your Funeral My Trial" is still as irresistible as ever; the intro, in particular, is the kind of thing from which The Rolling Stones took countless cues when its time was high. Williamson's delivery is that of a storyteller, and his way with a harmonica is to this day as singular as it's always been.

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
1894 - 1937
vocalist
remains her imperious self on "Send Me To The 'lectric Chair," despite her contrition. The plea of the title is delivered with more than a sense of remorse, but also the thought of a ninety-nine year jail sentence holds no appeal.

Comparison between Smith's performance recorded on March 3, 1937 and Memphis Minnie

Memphis Minnie
Memphis Minnie
1897 - 1973
guitar
's reading of "Biting Bug Blues" from two years earlier amounts to a case against the idea that the blues in that decade was already in a state of perpetual development. Of the two it's Minnie's performance that by present day standing is the more contemporary sounding, for all of its adherence to the traditional form.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
first cut "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You" in the company of a largely anonymous big band in April of 1931. On the version here he's alongside Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan
1908 - 1975
sax, alto
and His Tympani Five for a reading which, whilst it has its merits—not the least of them being the good-natured joshing between the two principals—doesn't possess the joy of spontaneity that the earlier recording does.

Champion Jack Dupree

Champion Jack Dupree
Champion Jack Dupree
1909 - 1992
piano
was, in all likelihood, not a man for such reflection, but that's of no relevance to the life-affirming quality of his music. From April 18, 1945, "I'm Going Down With You" is a stately roll enlivened further by the man's self-deprecating humor.

Blind Boy Fuller

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller
1907 - 1941
guitar, acoustic
also knew a thing or two about that same attribute, and he proves it here on "Pistol Slapper Blues." Unusually for the artists on this compilation, Fuller actually served time in prison for shooting his wife—in the leg, as opposed to fatally—but this did not hinder him from being one of the most prolifically recorded pre-World War Two bluesmen; between 1935 and 1950 he cut approximately 120 sides.

Track Listing: Gamblin' Bar Room Blues 2; Frankie And Johnny; Your Funeral My Trial; Seven Skeletons Found In The Yard; Prisoner's Plea; Bandsman Shooting Case; 44 Blues; Biting Bug Blues; Send Me To The 'lectric Chair; Down In The Willow; Pistol Slapper Blues; Poor Naomi Wise; Bloodstains On The Wall; Boom, Boom, Out Goes The Light; You Rascal You (I'll Be Glad When You're Dead); I'm Going Down With You; Pretty Polly; Stack-A-Lee Parts 1 & 2; Bob McKinney; Rose Conley; Strange Fruit; Got The Blues For Murder Only; The Fugitive's Lament.

Personnel: Jimmie Rogers; Ethel Waters; Sonny Boy Williamson; Lord Executor; Billy Boy Arnold; Wilmouth Houdini & His Humming Birds; Roosevelt Sykes "The Honey Dripper"; Memphis Minnie; Bessie Smith & Her Blue Boys; Wade Mainer & Zeke Morris; Blind Boy Fuller; A'nt Idy Harper & The Coon Creek Girls; Honeyboy; Little Walter & His Jukes; Louis Armstrong with Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five; Champion Jack Dupree; The Stanley Brothers; Archibald; Henry Thomas "Ragtime Texas"; G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter; Billie Holiday; Lonnie Johnson; The Delmore Brothers.

Record Label: Trikont

Style: Beyond Jazz


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