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Monday, August 20, 2012

Bo Carter: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 3 (1934-1936)


1) Howlin' Tom Cat Blues; 2) Don't Cross Lay Your Daddy; 3) Who Broke The Latch?; 4) Don't Do It No More; 5) Skin Ball Blues; 6) Shoe Blues; 7) Please Warm My Wiener; 8) She's Gonna Crawl Back Home To You; 9) Let Me Roll Your Lemon; 10) Mashing That Thing; 11) Blue Runner Blues; 12) Fifty-Fifty With Me; 13) To Her Burying Ground; 14) When Your Left Eye Go To Jumping; 15) Ride My Mule; 16) T Baby Blues; 17) I Get The Blues; 18) Spotted Sow Blues; 19) Rolling Blues; 20) All Around Man; 21) Fat Mouth Blues; 22) You Better Know Your Business.

"Won't you please warm my wiener, 'cause it really don't feel right cold". This just might be Bo's badassest refrain of all time; in the «gross» department, the tune certainly beats ʽLet Me Roll Your Lemonʼ, recorded around the same time — we all know the endless references to rolling and squeezing lemons from the blues-rock explosion of the 1960s / 1970s, but not even Robert Plant seemed to mention anything about «warming wieners» either during studio hours or over the course of endless live improvisations. But wait, what are we talking about? Surely that was just an innocent tune, penned by Bo for a hot dog stand publicity campaign. Every good wiener needs some advertising, after all.

The bad news — the very bad news — is, however, that in 1935 Bo significantly cut down on sug­gestive in­nuendos and re-oriented his lyrics towards more «family-friendly», traditional blues clichés, even going as far as to re-write some of his softporn classics: thus, ʽPin In Your Cushionʼ becomes ʽI Get The Bluesʼ, and «your cushion is so soft and warm» becomes «your loving is so soft and warm» — now ain't that a shame? Self-censorship in action.

In a flash, this removes the only good reason why anyone should ever give a damn about Bo Car­ter in the first place. Everything else remains — the decent level of playing, the pleasant vocal style — but is hardly enough to perk up any blues connoisseur's specific interest. The overall for­mula varies only once, on ʽTo Her Burying Groundʼ and the next track, where Bo is accompanied, for the first time ever, by a honky tonk piano, trying on the shoes of an urban blues performer à la Leroy Carr. But who really cares?

Okay, so at some point he does ask his baby to ʽride my muleʼ, and there is a ʽSpotted Sow Bluesʼ which is somewhat of a variation on ʽLittle Red Roosterʼ, except it does seem to correctly refer to female rather than male anatomy. But honestly, neither of these seems half as exploratory and inventive as the masterful fleshy allegories produced by the man in his early years. Hence, the 1935-36 period for Bo Carter can be characterized as a «slump». I mean, Frank Zappa, when he was not pouring forth obscenities, could at least shut up 'n' play his guitar. But what's a Bo Car­ter to do if he runs out of dirty jokes? It's amazing that he could actually keep up the same steady flow of recordings.

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