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Monday, June 5, 2017

Champion Jack Dupree: Trouble, Trouble


1) You Can Make It If You Try; 2) Cryin' Woman Blues; 3) Schoolday Blues; 4) Free And Equal; 5) Carolina Sunrise; 6) My Hearts Beats For You; 7) When A Young Girl Is Eighteen; 8) Broken Hearted Blues; 9) Trouble, Trouble; 10) I Ain't Gonna Be Your Low Down Dog; 11*) Gravier Street Special; 12*) Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee; 13*) Oh Baby Blues; 14*) Kind Hearted Woman; 15*) Number Nine; 16*) Blues Before Sunrise.

Discographies conflict over this one, some stating that it was released in 1962 and some putting it at 1964 — a good sign that nobody really cares. The recordings do seem to come from the same 1961 sessions that also produced The Best Of The Blues, with Dupree accompanied by Chris Lange on guitar and nobody else in particular; which means that the album is, at the very best, in need of a mini-mini-review.

Most of the tracks here are slow: a few generic 12-bar blues and a few urban blues ballads. If you thought ʽYou Can Make It If You Tryʼ might be the good old Gene Allison / Solomon Burke / Rolling Stones song, you would be mistaken: it is a semi-original, loosely based on ʽNobody Knows You When You're Down And Outʼ, but turned into an optimistic statement of hope from a pessimistic acknowledgement of non-stop bad luck. The other songs offer no specific red herring hints, but the only one worth batting an eye at is ʽSchoolday Bluesʼ, largely for being capable to press all of the Champ's negative life experience into a condensed 4-minute package.

Speed is picked up only on the last number: ʽI Ain't Gonna Be Your Low Down Dogʼ is fairly limp considering to how fired-up the Champ can get on some of his boogie numbers, but feels positively maniacal compared to everything else on here. The CD edition that I am reviewing adds a few extra bonus tracks from the same sessions, including a tepid, but fun version of Stick McGhee's ʽDrinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Deeʼ — alas, Mr. Chris Lange is no Stick, and his guitar performance is completely by-the-book. Bottomline: be it Denmark or Switzerland, good blues guitarists were fairly hard to find there in the early Sixties.

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