Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scrapper Blackwell - Mr. Scrapper's Blues (Original Blues Classics, 1962)

Blackwell led a very active early career in the twenties and thirties, particularly in a duet with guitarist Leroy Carr that was quite influential. This was his comeback album after he was "rediscovered" by folklorists and researchers in the late 50's. Sadly, he saw murdered just after completing this LP, cutting short what would have no doubt been a triumphant resumption of his musical career. The music itself is quite varied and shows Blackwell as a very talented guitarist and singer. His original compositions are quite memorable, like "Goin' Where the Monon Crosses the Yellow Dog" which tells a tale as old as the blues itself in an interesting way. His instrumental playing on "A Blues" and "E Blues" is sparkling and has jazzy complexity. But as good as these performances are, the highlights are a couple of cover performances, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" was originally popularized by Bessie Smith, and then revived by Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes in the early 70's. Blackwell performs it with the perfect edge of lived in world weariness of a man who knows life's ups and downs. The other memorable performance is "Blues Before Sunrise" by his old partner Leroy Carr. This is another emotionally potent performance. This album received a "crown" in the new edition of The Penguin Guide to the Blues, and certainly deserves consideration from fans of acoustic blues.

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