Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

288

Sleepy John Estes: On 80 Highway

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Such was the fallout from the blues boom of the 1960s that Sleepy John Estes and his compadre Hammie Nixon cut this album just prior to leaving for their first visit to Japan back in July of 1974. Both men might be said to have been in their dotage at the time, with Estes in particular being approximately seventy years old, and the music is shot through with what could be described as joyful intimations of mortality.

The paradoxically joyous misery of the blues medium as such is also present in abundance. The closing "Brownsville Blues" documents rolling guitar and piercing harmonica leads coming together in some approximation of harmony, and while it wouldn't be true to say that both men play with the energy of individuals half their age, the music still has about it an impatience with the vagaries of life and all they have to offer.

Where Nixon hits the mark, as he does all too frequently, it's to telling effect. On "IGA" his crisp, concise phrasing, unmarked as it is by his slightly wavering pitch evident in other places, adds no little amount to a performance rife with the slightly eerie feeling that the listener is being let in on something that predates the advent of recording technology by a considerable distance.

An accommodation with mortality is to the fore on "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead" especially as the duo's take on the song is shot through with a radically different lust for life to that of Louis Armstrong's reading from April 28, 1931. Furthermore, Estes' guitar playing is livelier than it customarily was at this stage in his life, and it only goes to show how his style of rhythm guitar has permeated through the music. Nixon's declamatory kazoo is rife with humor also, underscoring the impression discussed above.

"Potatoe Diggin' Man" is in essence more of the same, albeit with a more declamatory edge reflective of the song's content. Nixon's succinct bursts have a more telling effect than anything of a more virtuosic bent, whilst "Do Lord Remember Me" is aural evidence of the hard life made bearable by the hope of a place in the kingdom of Heaven. It's reflective of a concern with mortality and perhaps the dubious benefits of belated fame, and as such speaks volumes.


Track Listing: Love Grows In Your Heart; Potato Diggin' Man; Talk; I'll Be Glad When You're Dead; Holy Spirit; 80 Highway; When The Saints Go Marching In; Corrine, Corrine; President Kennedy (Take 14); IGA; T Model Ford; Do Lord Remember Me; Vernita Blues; Mary Comes On Home; President Kennedy (Take 13); Talk; Brownsville Blues.

Personnel: Sleepy John Estes: vocals, guitar; Hammie Nixon: vocals, harmonica, kazoo (4, 8).

Title: On 80 Highway | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Delmark Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Najwa" CD/LP/Track Review Najwa
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "Elusive" CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Echoes Of Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Echoes Of Europe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Northern Adventures" CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 14, 2017