Andrew "Smokey" Hogg

Sings the Blues

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Texas bluesman Andrew "Smokey" Hogg's greatest talent was his dogged persistence, since he couldn't keep a steady rhythm to save his life, and paired as he usually was with professional rhythm sections who were understandably baffled by Hogg's beat-baffled detours, it is truly a miracle that he recorded as much and as long as he did. This set collects 21 tracks Hogg recorded for the Modern and Combo imprints in the early '50s, and it is music for the unsteady of feet, since it lurches more than it rocks or rolls. Song after song starts out hopefully, only to derail into rhythmic chaos as the drummer and bass player struggle to find firm footing on what is hopelessly shifting ground. It really is fascinating to behold, and songs like the almost internally coherent "It's Rainin' Here" manage to work mostly because Hogg just never quits charging ahead. This same determination makes other tracks here like "You Can't Keep Your Business Straight," "Worryin' Mind," and the undeniably goofy but somehow endearing "Runaway" succeed in spite of their rhythmic uncertainties. There's no way to doctor this stuff, so what you hear is what you get.

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