Sunday, February 12, 2006

R.L. Burnside - My Black Name a Ringin' (Genes, 1999)

These are some of R.L. Burnside's earliest recordings and helped set the stage for his late-in-life renaissance. Its interesting that many of the songs that would appear in his amped up Fat Possum albums appear here first in stripped down acoustic form. Burnside had a limited repertoire throughout his career, but always twisted and tweaked the material to keep it from becoming repetitious. What you get here is something like the Old Testament Book of Burnside (in the beginning, there was a man with an acoustic guitar...), taken straight from the back porch of the hill country of Mississippi.

All of your R.L. Favorites are here, complete with doom-laden drones like "Goin' Down South" and "Poor Boy." It's also interesting to hear Burnside cover some classic blues tunes like John Lee Hooker's "Hobo Blues" and Muddy Waters songs "Two Trains Running" and "Catfish Blues" while making them all of his own, tracing the history of Mississippi blues from Charlie Patton to the present day, with rhythmic percussive guitar riffs and moaning vocals filled with longing and emotion.

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