Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mose Allison - I'm Not Talkin' - The Songs Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1972 (BGP, 2016)

It’s ironic that a musician so steeped in the sound of America should have made such an impact overseas. Mose Allison was a pianist, singer and composer of some of the wittiest songs of the modern era of jazz and blues. He was originally adopted by the mods in England and his music went on to influence a generation of British rock ‘n’ roll musicians. Allison died earlier this year at age 89, leaving an enormous footprint on modern music and this is a superb compilation of his early work, showing the wit and sagacity that his music always contained. He used to travel solo picking up rhythm sections in each city he toured. I saw him many years ago at the Van Dyck in Schenectady playing with the top bassist and drummer of the area and they were sweating to keep up with his unique propulsive piano playing and turns of phrase, and it was a wonderful concert. This album takes the highlights of Allison’s formative years beginning with his more blues influenced recordings like “Parchman Farm” a violent ode to the infamous work camp that he would stop playing in later years because he became uncomfortable with the content. “Foolkiller” shows the fast and hard piano playing that really drives the music and the lyrics forward. Allison bounced around a few labels (no one really knew how to market him) but when he landed on Atlantic in the 1960’s he produced some of his best work. Balancing the blues like “Baby Please Don’t Go” with more meditative and witty songs such as “Everybody Cryin' Mercy” and “If You’re Going to the City.” The Who were one of Allison’s biggest fans covering “Eyesight to the Blind” on the Tommy album, and then producing a ferocious version of “Young Man Blues” on Live at Leeds. What made Allison’s lyrics so special is that he moved away from the traditional tropes of blues and jazz, investigating science and philosophy in “Hello There, Universe” and “Your Molecular Structure” and delving deep into the sound of the human condition on “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy” and “Just Like Livin’.” This is an excellent primer to Allison’s work, showcasing all of the aspects of this wonderful musician and also includes a fine liner essay and many images. It’s a class act all around and highly recommended. I'm Not Talkin' - The Songs Stylings Of Mose Allison 1957-1972 -

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