As a primary founder of country music, Jimmie Rodgers' name isn't often associated with the blues. The blues, however, were an essential ingredient of early country, and Rodgers' series of blue yodels can attest to his affinity with the form. Brakeman's Blues is a generous collection of his blues material, featuring 24 cuts and clocking in at over 70 minutes. "Gambling Bar Room Blues" tells the bizarre tale of a jealous man who shoots and kills his best friend for talking to his girl and then proceeds to get falling-down drunk with a policeman at a bar. "TB Blues" carries the cheerful refrain, "Gee but the graveyard is a lonesome place/They put you on your back, throw that mud down in your face," while "Pistol Packin' Papa" equates sexual prowess with handgun ownership. Rodgers' lyrics can be raw, addressing death, lonesomeness, and love more directly than most contemporary singers would dare; they can also include thinly veiled sexual innuendos that would make Conway Twitty blush. These subjects, of course, make for great blues songs. There are also songs about infidelity ("Blue Yodel No. 10"), murder ("Gambling Bar Room Blues"), and traveling ("Travelin' Blues"). One also shouldn't miss classics like "Peach Pickin' Time Down in Georgia," "Muleskinner Blues," and "In the Jailhouse Now." Brakeman's Blues succeeds all around. It's the perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with their country roots, and it's a good collection for those interested in Rodgers' blues connection.
Brakeman's Blues Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.