Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling guitar player, 1 Mar 2002
This review is from: Georgia Bound (Audio CD)
Blind Blake remains an illusive figure in 1920s black music. His real name is believed to be Arthur Blake, but there is some question about this; he was born in the 1890s, but when in 1890s, we don't know; and he is believed to have died beneath the wheels of a tramcar in the 1930s in New York, or is it Atlanta? - no-one really knows. The only thing we can say with any confidence about Blind Blake was that he was one of the foremost guitarists of his day.
Listening to these scratchy 78 rpm recordings, the man's artistry never ceases to amaze. Blake could not play a boring note if he tried: no matter how fast he played or how scratchy the recording is, each note comes out as clear as a bell. He was more of a jazz guitarist in the way he approached his work, with his singing accompanying the guitar rather than the other way around. However, he has a perfectly good voice and sings in a style very similar to Bessie Smith. My favourite tracks here, and there are many of them, were all recorded on the same day: 17 August 1929, in Richmond, Indiana: Too Tight Blues No 2, Chump Man Blues, Georgia Bound, and the last two, made famous by wonderful cover versions by Ry Cooder, Diddy Wa Diddie and Police Dog Blues. These songs, highlighted by dazzling guitar breaks, capture Blake in the full flight of his genius. Every note of his playing dazzles as it surprises as it delights.
Blake was probably not the most attractive man in the world - but the dazzling prowess of his guitar playing makes him one of the outstanding recording artists of the 1920s, to be put beside Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong.
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