170

Lowell Fulson: Black Widow Spider Blues

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
When it came to playing the blues Lowell Fulson possessed an uncanny versatility born out of necessity. He could reference the unadorned acoustic styles of his youth, or just as easily switch pitches and lay down a high-energy urban jump blues. He’s flexibility was due in part to financial reasons- a greater number of styles under one’s belt meant a greater number of possible gigs. But more accurately it was simply the result of dedicated practice and commitment to his craft.

The recordings on this Catfish compilation come prior to Fulson’s famous partnership with the Chess label and are among his earliest. Waxed while he was eking out an existence on the West Coast these sides are mainly swing and jump blues in the vein of T-Bone Walker. But where they differ strikingly from this obvious source of influence is in the prickly bite of Fulson’s guitar. His stinging chords hack away any kind of maudlin sentimentality and infuse the music with a welcome raw edge. His various combinations range from duo to ‘orchestra’ (septet) size, but it’s on the former where his guitar is given most latitude to scratch and claw at the simple arrangements. Moments like the pugnacious preface to “My Baby” reference just how well his strings keep things honest and out of the range of teary-eyed romanticism. The task is more difficult on the fleshed out orchestra tunes where a light swing element threatens to crop up occasionally and Fulson’s once ornery guitar loses a little steam. But more often than not he rises above the limitations of his material and largely succeeds in subsuming the more polished impulses. Disc highlights include highlights are a trio of tracks with Fulson in the company of his brother Martin on second guitar. The pair turns their amps up to the verge of heavy distortion and smolder through a haunting mini-set of down home numbers.

Fulson may have cut a litany of sides for a variety of labels during his career, but these late 40s gem are among his most lasting and representative. Gathered together in one convenient place they afford an important aperture into the man’s music previously unavailable. Catfish should be commended.

Track Listing: 9:30 Shuffle/ Thinking Blues/ Wee Hours In the Morning/ My Baby/ Demon Woman/ Blues And Misery/ Ain

Personnel: Lowell Fulson- electric guitar, vocal; Rufus J. Russell- piano; Arthur Jackson- bass; Asal

| Record Label: Catfish Records (UK) | Style: Blues


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Message From Saturn" CD/LP/Track Review Message From Saturn
by James Nadal
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Troy Collins
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Mt. Crushmore" CD/LP/Track Review Mt. Crushmore
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "The Volume Surrounding the Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding the Task
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "In Praise of Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review In Praise of Shadows
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 19, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!