150

Skip James: Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Skip James: Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased These recently recovered sides constitute an addition to the blues vernacular tantamount to the discovery of a hitherto unknown late Beethoven string quartet. Prior to the release of Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased, James’ entire output existed on a handful of long-playing albums, one from the early 1930s and the rest contemporaries with this recording from 1967. While it is a bit of an exaggeration to say the James is neglected, his output nevertheless is often obscured by that of Son House, Robert Johnson, and Mississippi John Hurt when compared to his sheer artistry and honor.



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

Title: Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Vanguard Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Start to Move" CD/LP/Track Review Start to Move
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Dance of Time" CD/LP/Track Review Dance of Time
by Jeff Winbush
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "OWT" CD/LP/Track Review OWT
by John Sharpe
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Mount Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Mount Meander
by John Sharpe
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Moanin'" CD/LP/Track Review Moanin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 3, 2016
Read "I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know" CD/LP/Track Review I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know
by James Nadal
Published: August 2, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.