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Candy Man Blues Original recording remastered
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The complete 1928 sessions in Memphis and New York from the Mississippi folk blues legend. Includes such timeless songs as'Candy Man Blues', 'Stack O'Lee Blues' and 'Louis Collins'. With informative notes and session details this set is part of the Complete Blues series, described by Uncut magazine as ' a dazzling, comprehensive story of the blues...the most user-friendly compendium on the market'.
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Whilst there is blues music I enjoy, I am far from being a committed hardcore devotee of the genre, and therefore am surprised that my first encounter with 'perfection' happens to be with a now dead, not universally known exponent of country blues, who sang in a loud whisper, to a melodious finger-picked guitar self-accompaniment. John Smith Hurt known as Mississippi John Hurt lived from 1892 until 1966, born and raised in Avalon, Mississippi, learning to play the guitar at age 9. He was completely self taught and the result was quite unlike any other style being played at the time, but it was the way Hurt "thought the guitar should sound." His fast, highly syncopated style of playing made his music ideal for dancing.
A very polite and quietly spoken man, his mastery of combining his soft singing delivery with the most amazing finger-picked acoustic guitar music was nothing short of genius and which shines through on all of the tracks of "The Candy Man Blues" collection originally recorded in Memphis, Tennessee and New York City in 1928.
Every track is a superlative example of his immense understated talent but worth a special mention are "Stack O'Lee", and "Candy Man Blues", both for the guitar accompaniment, "Avalon Blues", and "Got The Blues", classic Delta with Piedmont Blues influenced numbers, "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", and "Blessed Be Thy Name", Gospel Blues and my personal pick of the bunch "Nobody's Business."
I make no excuses for my 'rant' over this man's artistic brilliance, my only fear is that I still may have sold him short! I can only live but in hope that I may have the good fortune to discover 'perfection' again after another 200 or so reviews but I somehow doubt it.
So, this is a nice and inexpensive collection of a great Delta Bluesman's early 'Okeh' recordings that sound as alive as anything recorded today, and will probably make you want the late Mr Hurt as a grand-father, such is his good nature and relaxed manner.
I was hugely impressed with this selection of tracks which represent his complete work from 1928 after which he remained undiscovered until the blues boom in the 1960's. There are two tracks which have a religious theme which don't appeal but there are performances here such as "Avalon Blues" and "Stack O'Lee" which are sublime. A comment has been made on one of the other reviews about the rawer aspect of this idiom being more appealing and a note waa added to the effect that MJH is perhaps the Nat "King" Cole of the blues.In fact, some of this repertoire probably has it's origins far earlier in the 19th century and will have pre-dated the blues which historians seem to agree was a 20th century phenomena. Granted that this CD lacks the gut-wrenching quality of some of Blind Willie Johnson's or Lemon's playing, I feel is is more than compensated for the musicality of Hurt's guitar work. There is far more "music" on this record than, say the Blind Willie Johnson disc in the same series which is far more uneven in my opinion. I also love the social history aspect of this record - particularly the "Stack O'Lee " performance which actually recounts a true story whereby the subject of the song killed a man in a fight over a stetson hat, although Hurt is incorrect insofar that the perpetrator did not hang for the offence but died from jail of pneumonia.
All in all, this is an excetional little CD. Granted, it would have been nice to have heard more but it doesn't exist. Easily the best bluesman I've discovered since my favourite, Blind Willie McTell. Unreservedly recommended.
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