Sunday, November 1, 2009

Elmore James

For so long Elmore James was naught but a name in a throwaway line in the last single by The Beatles. That was George Harrison, who, somewhat ironically perhaps, did not even play the slide guitar solo on For You Blue, who quipped “Elmore James got nothing on this, baby.”

But Elmore James was a real person, with feelings, and a mother, and a guitar. And his influence extended far and wide; just ask Jeremy Spencer. He never had any hits on top 40 radio, which isn’t surprising for a blues artist, and he is in good company: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Little Walter. But not so: B. B. King, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, but they are the exceptions.

This CD collection is called Let’s Cut It, The Very Best Of Elmore James and I found it at the West Kildonan Library.

Elmore James

Dust My Blues – This is Dust My Broom, originally recorded in 1951, and redone on the Flair label in 1955 as Dust My Blues. I don’t exactly what it means to dust one’s broom, nor to dust one’s blues, but this song, which is a prototype blues, performed in one form or another by everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Canned Heat, is nothing but an “I’m leaving my baby” song, anyway. Elmore James may have put this on the map, but Robert Johnson did it before him.
Blues Before Sunrise – A clone of Dust My Blues, as are many of the tracks on this collection.
No Love In My Heart – A fairly crude song of rejection, by the rejector.
Standing At The Crossroads – On which the Elmore James riff is supplemented by horn charts. Another hard luck story.
I Was A Fool – Another guy gets into a bad relationship. It was pretty bad apparently.
• Sunnyland
Canton, Mississippi Breakdown
Happy Home
Wild About You Baby
So Mean To Me
Hawaiian Boogie – An instrumental, and not one that sounds all that Hawaaiian.
Mean And Evil
Dark And Dreary
My Best Friend – Think of The Cars, My Best Friend’s Girl. I prefer The Cars, really.
I Believe – Not the hymn. Just another Dust My Blues soundalike.
Goodbye Baby – A slower blues here.
Sho Nuff I Do
Long Tall Woman – Maybe her name is Sally?

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