Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fred McDowell "The Alan Lomax Recordings"

(Global Jukebox/Mississippi) Obviously it would be difficult to argue Mississippi Jack McDowell as the  Lomax family's greatest "discovery" (papa John, sons John Jr. and Alan, daughters Bess and Shirley, and several spouses collected over 10,000 field recordings, bringing scores of geniuses to the ears of America, notably Lead Belly), but this digital and vinyl release makes a pretty good argument for him being the best recorded cat in their collection. Of course, the fact that this was recorded in 1959 and not in the 30s has something to do with that, but the clear, striking style of McDowell and his amazing talent were the main factors. More hypnotic and recognizably African than most archival Delta blues stuff, McDowell's resonant minimalist blues songs are discombobulating in their weird power. Known for the Rolling Stones covering one of his tunes and for his folk scene career in the 60s and early 70s, with this collection perhaps McDowell will know be known as a man whose raw, unadorned first recordings stand up to pretty much any blues recorded before or since, and far surpass his pretty great 60s output.

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