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Monday, February 1, 2010

Arthur Crudup: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 4


1) Worried About You Baby; 2) Late In The Evening; 3) Lookin' For My Baby; 4) Nelvina; 5) My Baby Boogies All The Time; 6) I Wonder; 7) Baby I've Been Mistreated; 8) You Didn't Mean A Word; 9) Open Your Book; 10) Tears In My Eyes; 11) Tears In My Eyes (alternate take); 12) Gonna Find My Baby; 13) Make A Little Love; 14) I Love My Baby; 15) My Wife And Women; 16) The War Is Over; 17) Fall On Your Knees And Pray; 18) If You Ever Been To Georgia; 19) Help Me To Bear This Heavy Load; 20) I Love You; 21) She's Got No Hair; 22) Looka There, She's Got No Hair; 23) I Love Her Just The Same.

The last Crudup volume in the Document series covers two and a half more years in his career before he went into semi-retirement, supposedly out of disgust with the record labels cheating him out of hard-earned cash (frankly speaking, it is possible to understand the record labels — how many times over and over again can you pay an artist for recording the exact same song?). The catalyst might have actually been Elvis' recording of 'That's Alright (Mama)', for which Big Boy never got any royalties — but then he didn't really write it, either.

Anyway, this is probably the most «full-sounding» Crudup album out there, as he essays to diver­sify his act by trying on different melodies and instrumentation. The sessions that cover the stretch from 'My Baby Boogies All The Time' to 'Make A Little Love' add an aggressive harmo­nica player, and the whole shenanigan occasionally resembles a weaker version of Son House's voodoo ritual. Then, starting with 'I Love My Baby', the harmonica is either replaced or supported by sax, and some of the tracks start sounding as if they want to capture the light groove of Atlantic R'n'B — including perhaps the oddest song in the Crudup catalog, the comic romp of 'Looka There, She's Got No Hair' (present here in two versions, one light, with brass and harmo­nica and whiny clownish singing, one dark, with grittier electric guitar, no brass, and a much more growly performance).

None of this helped make Arthur a big star once again — in the blues world, people were hungry for edgier atmosphere (Muddy) or blistering guitar playing (Elmore), and in the world of flashy entertainment, early rock'n'roll was replacing jump blues, and «Big Boy», unfortunately, was not nearly as big as to be able to recast himself in any of these moulds. Little innocent tricks, like put­ting out a song called 'The War Is Over' as a present to Korean veterans, did not help either. So it is no big surprise that the Document series stops at 1954 — there was no place for Arthur Crudup in the musical world of 1955. And, despite all the attempts at change, this is probably the least es­sential chapter in the man's history.

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