Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ROW: R.L. Burnside - Mississippi Hill Country Blues (Fat Possum)

Summertime is Burnside time at Rancho de Taylor. Seeing as spring only lasts but a handful of weeks here in the seasons-challenged Midwest I’ve already got this sucker primed for regular rotation. Originally circulated on the Dutch Swingmaster label in 1984, the bulk of the album originates from a ’82 session recorded in Groningen, Netherlands, three years into Burnside’s Big in Europe” phase curtailed only with his passing in 2005. Three cuts cull from a ’67 field recording trip by George Mitchell to the bluesman’s home in Coldwater, MS. At nineteen tracks all told it’s a definitive acoustic set, predating Burnside’s descent into near self-parody and laurel-coasting. No sipping whiskey out of a headless kewpie doll here, nor the tired catchphrase “Well, well, well…” uttered ad infinitum. This is the man at his middle-aged zenith running down a personal repertoire built from two equally magnetic edifices of the blues, Mississippi Fred McDowell and John Lee Hooker. My favorite tracks include the hill country “Hey Joe” variant “See What My Buddy Done”, the topically-similar and equally harrowing “Lost Without Your Love”, and the deliciously innuendo-laden “Mellow Peaches”. There really isn’t a faulty song in the bunch and wicked slide-inflected guitar-picking abounds.

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