380

Champion Jack Dupree: Junker Blues

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Champion Jack Dupree: Junker Blues Jack Dupree was one of the barrelhouse champions. Weaned on the coarser piano styles of the brothels and speakeasies of his New Orleans youth his utilitarian approach on the instrument always favored volume and vigor over skill and polish. But the attribute that set him most apart from the legion of juke joint ivory ticklers was his world-weary voice. He lived and breathed the life recounted in his colorful lyrics. Traveling across America, and in later years Europe, all the hard times he soaked up in his wanderings as an itinerant musician bled out to innumerable audiences through his gruff intonation.

The Catfish label does him a great service with this compilation. Gathering a generous slice of his 1940s Chicago output these tunes run a wide topical gamut from the bleak realities of prison life (‘Angola Blues’ and ‘County Jail Special’), to the temptations of drugs and booze (‘Junker Blues’ and ‘Rum Cola Blues’), to the inevitable worries posed by the opposite sex (‘All Alone Blues’ and ‘Mean Mistreatin’ Mama’. Through the entire program his muscular, but agile piano rolls duck and weave around the loose accompaniment of a varied crew of partners. Most commonly it’s a lone string bassist tying down the rhythmic end, but guitar, drums and sax do crop up on occasion. Somewhat of a surprise is Jesse Ellery’s electric guitar; on hand a full seven years before Muddy Waters made Chicago blues history on the instrument.

While there’s not much flash in Dupree’s presentation there’s still plenty of fire. The emotive directness of his down home delivery makes the music impossible to resist and these sides show off why he usually managed to pack a house. Also making the music a beautiful repast is the clarity of the Catfish crew’s remastering. Considering their vintage these sides are remarkably free of static and surface noise and all of the musicians, but particularly the bassists, are crisply rendered. Dupree recorded a large body of work during his lifetime, but these tracks from his heyday rank among the finest.

Catfish on the web: http://www.catfishrecords.co.uk/


Track Listing: Love Strike Blues/ Warehouse Man Blues/ Angola Blues/ Big Time Mama/ That

Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree- piano, vocal; Bill Gaither- bass; Wilson Swain- bass; Ransom Knowling- bass; Jesse Ellery- electric guitar; Brownie McGhee- guitar; Count Edmondson- bass; Jesse Powell- tenor saxophone; Melvin Merrit- drums; Lannie Scott- piano; Sticks McGhee- guitar.

Title: Junker Blues | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Catfish Records (UK)


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Live at the Blue Whale" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Blue Whale
by Phillip Woolever
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Holiday On Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Black Diamond" CD/LP/Track Review Black Diamond
by Joe Gatto
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Noumenon" CD/LP/Track Review Noumenon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "Return" CD/LP/Track Review Return
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.