Skip James: Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased (2003)
Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James was born in Bentonia, Mississippi on June 21, 1904. He was the son of a backsliding Baptist minister who abandoned his family shortly after James’ birth. Skip James would grow up to be the major exponent of the Bentonia School of blues, characterized by open D-Minor guitar tunings and a high ghostly falsetto that would have frightened the Devil away from the crossroads. Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased includes sides recorded 1967 between Skip James Today (1965) and Devil’s Got My Woman (1968). His performing here is not up to the standards of these contemporaneous discs, particularly his guitar playing, but the recording does contain more of James’ distinctive piano music and within this rarified realm, his talent shines brightly. James' piano playing is an artistic mess that is absolutely perfect rural blues. this is blues piano that because of its uniqueness, cannot be compared to that of Roosevelt Sykes, Pinetop Perkins, or Otis Spann because that would be like comparing apples to oranges. James plays the piano like he plays the guitar extending some lines and shortening others however the mood suits him. this can be very disconcerting to those listener looking for appropriate resolution in the blues, but James' approach certainly best represents rural performance style.
This session finds James limited himself to traditional music and spirituals. A highlight among many is his post-modern piano performance of Hoagy Carmichael’s "Lazy Bones." The majority of rural blues artists from the 1920s and ‘30s were fluent in the popular vernacular. Here is one of the most perfect examples of cultural cross-pollination one could imagine: a monument, if only a minor one, to perhaps the finest talent expressed from the Mississippi Delta tradition. Strongly recommended.
See Vanguard Records .
Track Listing: Back Water Blues; Everybody Ought To Live Right; I Want To Be More Like Jesus; Jack Of Diamonds; My Last Boogie; Lazy Bones; Let My Jesus Lead You; My Own Blues; Oh. Mary Don
Personnel: Nehemiah "Skip" James
Record Label: Vanguard Records