Ramblin' Thomas

Ramblin' Mind Blues: Chicago Blues, 1928

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An album released during the initial blues craze of the '60s, this fine Biograph set is the musical equivalent of a set of snapshots of a mysterious and talented country blues artist on his way in and out of town. Paramount was the label that originally halted this character's rambling long enough to put a microphone in front of him, and what they got is a series of pretty intense performances. The material can seem too similar, an effect not enhanced by the gnawed and garbled sound from antique masters, but lines about women who "would make a tom cat heist its tail" and rhythmically substantial guitar picking are just two reasons why the collection will grow on a listener. There are also tracks such as "Jig Head Blues" and "Sawmill Moan" that are as evocative as the best country blues, each note quivering with a reality of time and place that could never be duplicated by even the most seasoned of revival country blues performers.