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Monday, February 25, 2013

Champion Jack Dupree and T.S. McPhee: Groundhog in the Cabbage Greens

One of the most unusual recordings of Champion Jack's career was made in 1967 with T.S. McPhee from the Groundhogs. The 'hogs had backed up Champion Jack on a 1964 tour, and McPhee played on Champion Jack's first Decca recordings, alongside Eric Clapton and John Mayall.  When CDJ was signed to Decca blues spinoff writeoff Blue Horizon in '67, somebody had the bright idea to pair Champion Jack's voice with solo guitar accompaniment.

Jack doesn't play piano on these recordings at all - it's just him and McPhee's acoustic guitar.  The result is unique in the British-Blues-Personality-Plays-With-Blues-Legend genre, and it's a very pleasant listen. The songs are all short, and while some of them are readymades, they sound different than CDJ's usual readymades. Dupree's sounds warm and engaged, and McPhee is neither to staid or showoffy.

The recordings basically stayed in the vault until Ace released them on CD in 1997. A 45 of "Get Your Head Happy" came out in the late 60s in a limited white label only run.

You can hear the whole thing on Spotify.

The Snow Is on the Ground