Bob Gaddy

Harlem Blues Operator

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Most of Gaddy's recordings were done for Old Town in 1955-60, and this 21-track CD covers that era comprehensively, including everything from his singles and four outtakes. Gaddy was a likable but average blues and R&B pianist and singer, covering jump blues, emotional slow electric blues, uptempo R&B that crossed over into rock & roll, Jack Dupree-style piano blues (indeed Dupree wrote some of the material here), and more, although he never got to an elite class in any particular subgenre. The great Jimmy Spruill plays stinging guitar on some of the songs, which gives some of the material, like the Willie Dixon-penned "Could I," a lift, though "Could I" sounds a bit like a Howlin' Wolf track with a way-too-polite vocal. On the other hand, some tracks are clearly trying to simulate the sound of big hits, such as the "The Girl Who Promises," with its direct ripoff of Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City" shuffle; "Gonna Be at the Station," a very close relative of Hank Ballard's "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go"; and "I Love My Baby," which is close to being "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" with another title. Perhaps when they were recorded, it was hoped that listeners not familiar with the prototypes would be taken in, but there's a problem when these show up on reissues: the people most likely to buy reissues such as these are also the most likely listeners to know what songs from which these riffs were lifted. This is a fair set of R&B-blues crossover, and one of the relatively few single-artist compilations devoted to a New York-based blues performer of the 1950s, but can't qualify as a major collection.

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