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Monday, February 18, 2013

Champion Jack Dupree: Blues from the Gutter

In 1958 CJD went into the studio with producer Jerry Wexler, three musicians from his Vik tenure -Larry Dale (now playing under his real name, Ennis Lowery), drummer Willie Jones and sax player Pete Brown, and bassist Wendell Marshall, to record Blues from the Gutter, an album so filled with weed, smack, goofer dust, sex, booze, violence, disease, betrayal and evil that it makes Sticky Fingers seem sweet and innocent.

In internetese:
sound like
This is not merely blogger hyperbole - it is also a ham-handed segue to the fact that Blues from the Gutter was one of the recordings that inspired Brian Jones to move from his home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire to London to learn how to play the blues.

That Blues from the Gutter was one of the first blues LPs Jones heard and was a huge influence on his playing is documented in several sources. But a description of his first time hearing the record is documented in the book Foundation Stone, by Graham Ride, a friend of Jones' in Cheltenham, and apparently the guy who introduced him to the record.

A description of that event, along with a good breakdown of Blues from the Gutter track-for-track, can be found in an excerpt from the book from the author's website.  The upshot of Ride's thesis is that before Ride played Jones BFTG* he was something of a trad/jazz snob, but after hearing the record he is a blues convert, saying more than once, "I just have to play this stuff . . . what a sound."

He got the habit
So whether or not the detailed description of Brian's first encounter with the blues in Foundation Stone is 100% accurate, the record certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Rockin at the Hops and The Best of Muddy Waters as one of them LPs what helped create the Rolling Stones.

Not only that, but it's great from beginning to end, and while a lot of the material is recylcled from earlier Dupree recordings, the decision to gather together all of his material with grittier subject matter in once place was brilliant - I don't know that there was a blues LP before this one that had any kind of thematic unity.

 In fact, I don't know of any better "after hours" styled blues record than this one.  The recording is excellent, Dupree is in top-notch vocal form (I particularly love his Big Joe Turneresque turn on "Evil Woman") and the band is not only killer, they are extremely sympathetic and supportive of one another - the shouts of encouragement and pleasure that accompany the music are infectious. 

The album starts with "Strollin'", and once again, Dupree starts a record by saying "I want all you teenagers and bobbysoxers to gather around this jukebox", although the notion that any bobbysoxer in the late 50s would be attracted to this steaming pile of skid-row squalor (or that their parents would allow such a thing in their home) is pretty hilarious.  The CD reissue blew it initially and used the wrong take, and the 45 is edited, so the LP is the way to go.  Here's the whole track.

But the 45 sure is purty
I'm not going to go through every track, because you probably either already have this record, or you should just go find a copy to have for your own three in the morning nasty boogie woogies.  But here's a couple more - the excellent version of "Bad Blood", for me a distillation of what this whole record is about, and the version of "Stack-O-Lee" that closes the record with a classic album ending verse if there ever was one:  "Said I want Louis Armstrong and his band to play the blues as they lay my body down/I want 10,000 women to be at my burying ground."

*No, not Back from the Grave, but, hey - anagramology certainly rears its head on that coincidence. Blues from the Gutter begats the Rolling Stones who beget Back from the Grave which means somehow in the twisted world of Dr. Filth rock and roll logic (for this month anyway) Jack Dupree is the father of the Keggs.  Or at least "Orphan Boy".


jimisonicgio said...

Couldn't agree more. One of my favourite LPs.

jehof said...

I believe the link to the 45 is broken. Try to open it up and nothing happened.

Mr. Soul Motion said...

Thanks for the feedback. Fixed.

Dale said...

I don't think even CJD ever matched this one again. It truly stands alone.