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Monday, August 7, 2017

Champion Jack Dupree: Forever And Ever


1) They Gave Me Away; 2) Hometown New Orleans; 3) Skit Skat; 4) Poor Boy; 5) Forever And Ever; 6) Yella Pocahontas; 7) Third Degree; 8) Dupree Special; 9) Spoken Introduction; 10) Let's Talk It Over.

Same producer, same musicians, same studio, same artist at more or less the same age — see previous review. This one, on the whole, is slower: the only fast boogie number is ʽSkit Skatʼ, where the Champ indulges a bit in fun, but unimpressive scatting (he ain't no Ella Fitzgerald, after all), plus the wild, tribal, politically incorrect groove of ʽYella Pocahontasʼ, meshing together bits of Bo Diddley with elements of the Creole skit ʽOoh La Laʼ that he'd recorded decades ago. All the other songs are slow blues numbers, the most striking of these probably being a cover of Eddie Boyd's ʽThird Degreeʼ — alas, much as I sympathize, a cover that would be utterly des­troyed in three years by Clapton's version on From The Cradle (I do have to wonder if he'd had a chance to be inspired with this version at all, since many of the licks played here by Kenn Len­ding find faithful, but superior, equivalents in Eric's performance).

At least this time we receive our «marking time» number: ʽHometown New Orleansʼ, predictably set to the melody of ʽSweet Home Chicagoʼ, symbolizes Dupree's triumphant re-entry into his town of origin — one last time before the final kick. I only wish the accompanying musicians would have been more enthusiastic about it, instead of sounding like working for money and little else. Too bad he could not involve Dr. John, at least, since the role of the piano player was already occupied (then again, a duet between the Champ and the Doctor might have broken up the boredom quite efficiently).

Other than that, Lending's guitar skills may be appreciated finer than usually on the long opening number ʽThey Gave Me Awayʼ (really subtle, thin, fragile tone on some of these licks, though still utterly Claptonesque), and Dupree's skills as a piano player are at their best on the aptly titled ʽDupree Specialʼ, where, midway through, he launches into a couple of nimble and fun solos that are more playful than technically perfect, but playfulness is his strong spot, and even if he ain't no Artur Rubinstein at age eighty, hearing him engage in a bit of ivory silliness at a time when most of his contemporaries would be fading away in nursing homes is still heart-warming. And this, I think, is the best possible conclusion for a laconic review like this.

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