Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Blues Masters, Vol. 5 (Storyville, 1992)

I had been curious about the music of Sonny and Brownie, but unsure where to start investigating it. Seeing this was awarded a crown in the The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings, it seemed as good a place as any. The songs they cover are long time standards but they make them sound fresh. "Rock Island Line" and "Midnight Special" have echoes of Leadbelly. There are echoes of folk music and gospel throughout, and the two principals work so well together that it's hard to believe they were hating each others guts at this stage according to the Guide. Trading verses and vocals back and forth and making their guitar and harmonica mesh perfectly, you can tell that they had been playing together for a long time. The retelling of the "John Henry" myth is particularly excellent the the instruments approximate the woosh and clang of the hammer and the lyrics about that famous steel drivin' man are sung in a strong and stout manner. This was a fun disc to listen to and made a very good introduction to this famous duo. I think any fan of acoustic blues or folk music would find it enjoyable.
Blues Masters, Vol. 5 - amazon.com

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