Rockin' Tabby Thomas

Swamp Man Blues

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Every now and again you find a disc whose title not only fits it, but describes it perfectly. This is one of the best surprises of the year. This man rocks with that swampy beat that contains all the Hoodoo and Gris Gris mystery that one associates Louisiana swamp music. The beat is deep and full of a resonation that seems to suck you into it much like the inexorable force of quicksand. It is a primal rhythm that lives and breathes a heavy and fecund air that completely envelops the listener until he is moving with its cadence. The album can faulted for one issue, though: the liner notes don't tell you who is playing in the fine band that is playing behind him. They not only support him, but they give him the underpinning that gives the music its genuine feel. This is the heavy boogie blues of the Delta joining forces with more jumping and lighter in feel, East Texas style, with a heavy jolt of the mysterious and treacherous footing and Spanish moss-draped primal rhythmic music of the swamps. Tabby Thomas has been playing the blues for years. He had a hit in 1961 with his partying anthem "Hoodoo Party," and after that little bits of regional success, but for the most part, he had to work other jobs to support his family. In 1983 he opened his own blues club in Baton Rouge, his home base, and through its doors have passed some of the finest swamp bluesmen playing, such as Kenny Neal and his kin. Included in this group is his own son Chris Thomas King, a futuristic bluesman recognized for his own contributions (sad to say but the club was torn up to make way for a highway). He's arguably at his best when he sticks to the true swamp blues. Songs such as "Swamp Man Blues" and "Hoo Do Man" are prime examples of the best of his work. On these he captures the essence of all that makes up the swamp without revealing, only alluding to all the secrets it contains. There is some fine, fine harp playing on here as well as a very tight rhythm section but the names remain a mystery. If you're curious about swamp music, put this in, turn it up, and listen to Rockin' Tabby Thomas lay it all out for you. His base is the blues, in songs such as "Going to New Orleans," but his strength is in the swamp where it all comes together.

blue highlight denotes track pick