We come with a bang, not a whimper, to the final volume in our Lightnin' Slim reissue series. Just listen in particular to the first nine tracks on this CD, and you will find some of the greatest down-home blues cut anywhere, anytime. It's all there - Lightnin's guttural vocals, Lazy Lester's emphatic harmonica, blues songs that are well-crafted, with sympathetic production work from Jay D Miller in his studio in deepest South Louisiana.
Lightnin' had the remarkable ability to personalise his work to the extent that everything he did was indelibly his own. Take a look at the lyrics of his classic Winter Time Blues (a southern regional hit in early 1963):
Yes, the little girl is just 16 years old
How'd you find out, Lightnin' (interjection by Lazy Lester)
I eavesdropped and heard her mother said
You know, she got a way of huggin' and kissin'
She'll bring livin' back to the dead.
By the mid-1960s the down-home blues was on the way out as a commercial entity with the black audience of the South-.-soul music was sweeping in with the hip young sounds of the day. Producer Jay Miller did try to update Lightnin' Slim's style by introducing organs and breaking away from the standard 12-bar format, which as liner note writer Dave Sax recalls did bring moans of emotional distress' from Lightnin's keen British collectors at the time. However, Dave admits that a retrospective look...reveals positive aspects as well.
Indeed the final Excello session is as blue as can be, climaxing with a remake of his first hit Bad Luck Blues from 1954. As Sax notes, So much had changed and yet nothing had changed...these are songs about jail and the workhouse, restlessness and wondering.
Our booklet contains a discography by Dave Sax of all Lightnin' Slim's Excello recordings. It shows that of the 101 available titles, Ace will have reissued 95 with the release of WINTER TIME BLUES. Of the remaining six unissued titles, Stranger In Town will appear on our GENUINE R&B compilation in February, and the other five are alternate takes of issued cuts. Now that's a comprehensive reissue series!
As a reminder, our other CDs are:
* ROOSTER BLUES/BELL RINGER - 2-on-1 (CDCHD 517)
* IT'S MIGHTY CRAZY (CDCHD 587)
* NOTHIN' BUT THE DEVIL (CDCHD 616)
* HIGH AND LOW DOWN - with Whispering Smith's Over Easy (CDCHD 578)
No blues' collection should be without them, seriously.
by John Broven