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Midnight Blues, CD (£11.50)
Few vintage artists continue to divide the Post-WWII blues community's opinions quite so sharply as the late Andrew "Smokey" Hogg. For many, myself included, his intimate style and unique rhythmic approach is ever endearing. For others, he's a guy who ruined many potentially great records due to his eccentric sense of timing."
Fortunately, there are more than enough of 'us' to create the sales that sustain Ace's Hogg reissue programme. Therefore I'm as delighted as the next Hogg fan would be to be responsible for the assembly of another first-rate selection of Smokey's Modern recordings - the second in a series of three (or possibly even four) that kicked off last year with "Serve It to the Right" (CDCHD 866) and that will continue, in late 2005, with an as-yet-untitled anthology that will also draw on the man's Federal, Meteor and Recorded In Hollywood sessions.
MIDNIGHT BLUES - which was originally going to be titled "Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes", by the way - brings you another two dozen examples of Smokey's Modern oeuvre, a dozen of which have remained unheard since they were committed to acetate more than half a century ago. As always, our man is sympathetically backed on most cuts by a swinging trio of accompanists (including in their number - and on different sessions - by Hadda Brooks, Dorothy Broyles, Bill Davis, Cake Wichard, Sharky Hall, Austin McCoy and Wesley Prince) who are always understanding of, and wholly in tune with, Smokey's highly individual approach to performing. The work of the various trios here is in many ways as much of a highlight of these tracks as is that of Mr Hogg himself.
I'm also delighted to be able to include a fully revised discography of the featured repertoire, thanks to the ever-present and always welcome assistance of intrepid researcher Russ Wapensky. In the course of his research Russ has uncovered plenty of new details of session locations and personnel, all of which add considerably to what we already knew courtesy of previously published blues tomes. We have also been able to date most of the sessions with considerably more accuracy than has previously been the case.
As I never tire of pointing out to the (thankfully) ever-decreasing band of Hogg-haters, Smokey sold a lot of shellac for a lot of labels in his heyday. Syd Nathan, Lew Chudd, Bobby Shad and the Bihari brothers would certainly not have invested prolonged studio time in any artist whose 78s did not sell in sizeable quantities. Smokey Hogg's popularity in the early 1950s is testament to his talent, and reason enough for Ace to afford him the respect that any artist of his importance deserves by continuing to bring the best of his classic Modern recordings to a CD player near you.
"Anytime Is the Right Time" for Smokey Hogg!
By Tony Rounce"