177

Arbee Stidham: Tired of Wondering

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Ask your average casual blues fan about Arbee Stidham and a blank stare will likely be your answer. He’s an archetypal example of the forgotten blues hero, one whose past laurels have completely withered with the passage of time. Not so in the post-War years of the late 1940s, when his single “My Heart Belongs to You” rocketed to the top of the Billboard ‘race’ music chart. Slinging a T-Bone Walker-influenced guitar style that favored cleanly articulated single notes over strumming while singing with a warbling tenor croon, Stidham was well suited for his commercial ascent. While this date for Bluesville came when the downward slide in his popularity was still a few years off, the record’s main appeal is with the sidemen on hand.

At the time of the session, saxophonist King Curtis was riding a rising arc of his own, enjoying crossover appeal amongst both rhythm and blues and jazz audiences. Pianist John Wright had recently waxed his own record as a leader for Prestige and Leonard Gaskin was a busy session bassist on dates for leaders ranging from Miles Davis to Lightnin’ Hopkins. The shuffle beat driven “Pawn Shop” is initially a feature for Wright, who wrings out a wave of bluesy rolls from his keys while the others comp languidly around him. Curtis uncorks a burner on his horn prior to the closing chorus that is soaked in highly flammable soul. The mournful title track reflects on the weariness of the itinerant life through a series of clever stanzas. Stidham sings the words with emotion and conviction and his bandmates back up the sentiments with sparse, but tight support. Revisiting his classic “My Heart Belongs to You” and its variant “I Want to Belong to You”, Stidham stretches his words out, magnifying a plea to a lost lover over the loping beat of Jackson’s drums and Gaskin’s hearty bass throb. Curtis wails one last time on the final number, a tongue in cheek ode to adolescent romance. In sum, the record is an enjoyable if non-essential outing.

Along with so many of his peers, Stidham’s star fell off the map. Albums such as this one serve as instructive reminders that the music business is a fickle mistress and public tastes are as mutable as the changing tides. It is this natural, if at times lamentable, order of things that makes reissue programs like Fantasy’s so valuable in preserving as complete a picture as possible of the past.

Bluesville on the web: http://www.fantasyjazz.com

Track Listing: Last Goodbye Blues/ You Can

Personnel: Arbee Stidham- guitar, vocals; King Curtis- tenor saxophone; John Wright- piano; Leonard Gaskin- bass; Armond Jackson- drums. Recorded: November 7, 1960.

| Record Label: Prestige Records | Style: Blues


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Upset The Status Quo" CD/LP/Track Review Upset The Status Quo
by James Nadal
Published: May 11, 2016
Read "Voices in the Void" CD/LP/Track Review Voices in the Void
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "The Many Minds of Richie Cole" CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "The Duo - Live!" CD/LP/Track Review The Duo - Live!
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "A Handful Of Songs" CD/LP/Track Review A Handful Of Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "Mundo" CD/LP/Track Review Mundo
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 30, 2016

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!