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Monday, February 21, 2011

Barbecue Bob: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1928-1929)


1) Mississippi Low-Levee Blues; 2) Ease It To Me Blues; 3) She's Gone Blues; 4) Cold Wave Blues; 5) Beggin' For Love; 6) Bad Time Blues; 7) Meat Man Pete; 8) Dollar Down Blues; 9) It Just Won't Hay; 10) It's Just Too Bad; 11) Good Time Rounder; 12) Honey You're Going Too Fast; 13) Red Hot Mama Papa's Going To Cool You Down; 14) California Blues; 15) It's A Funny Little Thing; 16) Black Skunk Blues; 17) Yo Yo Blues; 18) Trouble Done Bore Me Down; 19) Freeze To Me Mama; 20) Me And My Whiskey; 21) Unnamed Blues.

Bob's second year at Columbia clearly showed that the man wasn't going anywhere special, but it's not as if anyone expected progress. On the contrary, everyone expected, and demanded, no­thing but remakes of the old hits; symbolically, the album opens with 'Mississippi Low-Levee Blues', which is simply 'Mississippi Heavy Water Blues' with a new set of lyrics. There are also a couple rewrites of 'Motherless Child' here, and lots of fast dance-blues numbers all set to the same pattern ('It Just Won't Hay' and its clones).

Dirty song of the day: 'Meat Man Pete', of course, in which Bob is all excited to tell us all about "Peter's meat" which is "always fresh" (for some reason, he doesn't do the popular verse which mentions his "boneless ham"). However, it must also be mentioned that Hicks' songs are not all that heavy on dirty double entendres — the barbecue man preferred a cleaner approach.

On the positive side, it seems that the more time Hicks spent in the studio, the more he was get­ting into his instrument. The simple «flailing» technique is still there all over the place, but gene­rally there is more emphasis on his slide playing, and almost every number, no matter how primi­tive, has plenty of little flourishes and, sometimes, even counter-melodic lines that show how honestly the cooking bluesman was trying to hold his own territory against giants like Blind Le­mon. It is hardly a crime that he never got around to matching Jefferson's creativity. He did beat him in the vocal department, though, in a «technical» manner at least — easily going from growl to falsetto and then to his regular tenor whenever the situation called for it. But not in the «perso­nality» department — his drinking songs, such as 'Me And My Whiskey', do not really betray the soul of a goddamn drinking man.

Check "Barbecue Bob Vol. 2" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Barbecue Bob Vol. 2" (MP3) on Amazon

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