CD Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charley Patton (CD 634247),
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Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charley Patton
1. Elder Greene Blues - Steve James/Mark Rubin
2. Poor Me - Graham Parker
3. Pea Vine Blues - Charlie Musselwhite
4. Pony Blues - Snooky Pryor
5. I Shall Not Be Moved - Paul Rishell/Annie Raines
6. Some of These Days - Guy Davis
7. Sugar Mama - Joe Louis Walker
8. Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues - Dave Van Ronk
9. Moon Going Down - Corey Harris
10. Shake It and Break It - Steve James
11. Some Summer Day - Kid Bangham
12. Down The Dirt Road Blues / When Your Way Gets Dark - Colleen Sexton
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 83535
Randy Labbe (Compilation)
Includes liner notes by Steve James.
Coordinated by acoustic Delta guitarist Steve James (who also penned the liner notes and appears on two tracks), this is a respectful but refreshingly not-always-reverent tribute to the undisputed king of the Delta blues. Although there are only 12 tracks and some of Patton's defining tunes -- like "Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues" and "A Spoonful Blues" -- are MIA, these performances capture the spirit of Patton and show how his legacy extends to contemporary blues musicians. There really isn't a bad or misguided track here (unusual for tribute discs), a situation helped by the quality and pedigree of the musicians involved, who seek to maintain the rawness of Patton's blues. Certainly keeping the predominantly unplugged music stripped to just guitar or harmonica (in the case of Snooky Pryor's amazing "Pony Blues," which finds the classic bluesman sounding as inspired as ever), or both (as Annie Raines and Paul Rishell's take on Patton's spiritual "I Shall Not Be Moved"), maintains the focus. Delta-based artists such as Corey Harris and Dave Van Ronk turn in fine if unsurprising performances. But the unexpected addition of Brit pub rocker Graham Parker works surprisingly well, as his gritty voice (although not necessarily rudimentary guitar) does justice to "Poor Me." Harpist Charlie Musselwhite sticks to guitar for an ominous yet sweet "Pea Vine Blues," but it's Joe Louis Walker's incendiary seven-and-a-half-minute version of "Sugar Mama" and the closing medley of "Down the Dirt Road Blues"/"When Your Way Gets Dark," sung with a sexy, knockout approach by the album's only female vocalist, Colleen Sexton, clocking in at nearly ten minutes, that are the album's highlights. They open up these songs, leaving room for improvisation that expands the concepts but stays true to Patton's originals. One of the most successful albums of this type, this is an excellent (and well-recorded) introduction to the music of one of the touchstones of the blues. ~ Hal Horowitz
Living Blues (11-12/01, pp.67-8) - "...It's a tribute to the musicians that they have been so successful at updating Patton's music and lyrics while respecting the integrity of his creations."
No Depression (11-12/01, p.140) - "...A fine record featuring first-rate contributions..."
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Telarc Distribution 83535
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