Bukka White

Mississippi Blues

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In the true Takoma style of obscurity, there is not much information on this recording. Most of the back cover is taken up with a catalog listing, while the front cover photo is of a dried-up muddy riverbed, which actually looks like a blow-up of a small section of this artist's face. Bukka White is a name known to blues lovers since he was one of the group of early Delta blues recording artists that were rediscovered in the '60s. This album is one of the new recordings he made during this latter period. It is appropriate that White recorded a monologue at one point entitled "Mixed Water" for another label, because blues listeners tend to be mixed about this artist's output. The final analysis is usually in his favor, as he has a tremendously appealing voice, and while not a guitar virtuoso, he certainly creates an authentic Delta blues sound and keeps three or four rhythms that blues bar bands would die for. Sometimes listeners just expect too much from the man, such as a more extensive repertoire of styles or a more forceful guitar attack. Slide guitar and dobro playing have gone so far to the front and center in various types of music that some listeners are just used to hearing it that way, and won't comprehend why White's licks are sometimes simply chiming way in the background, like angels heard from a distance. Despite a lack of intensity -- he just sounds tired some of the time -- there are several classic performances on this recording. What is identified as "Parchman Farm" was actually recorded under the title of "Where Can I Change My Clothes" in the '40s for Vocalion. While he also recorded another song entitled "Parchman Farm" as well, neither is the blues song of this name that has become a standard. The incorrectly titled performance of "Where Can I Change My Clothes" here is brilliant, as is his intense "Army Blues." His "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Shake 'Em On Down" both display his unforced, calm method of delivery, the main point of focus being the twists and turns taken by his magnificently rich vocal as the guitar plays a very straightforward accompaniment. The distinctive plunk of the steel guitar or dobro is present here throughout; listeners that find this sound appealing will be in heaven, daydreaming of guitars with pictures of palm trees on their backs. The track consisting of stories about blues legend Charley Patton spoon-feeding him small amounts of whisky is amusing, but brings the side to a dead halt.

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