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Various Artists: Blues From Up The Country

C. Michael Bailey By

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Delmark’s 50th Anniversary Collection, Part 4

Blues From up the Country showcases the transitional music between the true Country Blues of Robert Johnson and Son House and the Urban Blues of middle-period Muddy Waters and Walter Jacobs. This mostly acoustic or crudely electrified music, raw and undone, comes from Delmark’s archives, recorded between the 1949 and 1996, with the bulk derived from the 1960s. These blues have a stranger, grittier, more authentic bouquet than the more refined blues of Willie Dixon and Chess Records.



Nowhere is this grittiness heard more than on Big Joe Williams’ "49 Highway Blues" and Arthur Crudup’s "That’s All Right." Williams plays his trademark nine string guitar like he just got off the train and walked right in the studio with the intention to return to Mississippi the next day. Arthur Crudup sings the song that made Elvis famous with the most spare and raw guitar accompaniment possible. Both men have Ransom Knowling playing bass, adding a certain effort to urbanize this rough country fare.



Curtis Jones and Champion Jack Dupree add piano blues to the mix with Jones’ lamenting "Lonesome Bedroom Blues" and Dupree’s rollicking "Rub a Little Boogie." The most recent recording, Jimmy Burns’ "Catfish Blues," retains its late ‘50s flavor in spite of its youthful production. Probably the two most delightfully strange tunes in this collections are Sleepy John Estes’ "Beale Street Sugar" (... not the kind you put in your tea ...) and Blind Willie McTell’s "Hide Me in Thy Bosom," which was released on The Backpoarch Boys (Delmark). McTell was of the habit of showing up in different studios every decade, recording, and disappearing again. Hear the blind singer in great voice on this original spiritual.



For more information, see Delmark Records .


Track Listing: Big Joe Williams

Title: Blues From Up The Country | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Delmark Records

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