Big Bill Broonzy

The 1955 London Sessions

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There's no shortage of late-era Big Bill Broonzy recordings, as the blues legend appeared throughout Europe and cut numerous sessions during the final five years of his life. The ten songs assembled here -- taken from various Pye/Nixa EPs and 10" LPs cut during October of 1955 -- are unusual in that they're more diverse and intense than much of what Broonzy cut in America. "When Do I Get to Be Called a Man," which is practically a sung demand for civil rights, opens the CD on a dignified but impassioned note. "St. Louis Blues" is done by Broonzy as a solo guitar instrumental, and benefits from his dazzling (and often underrated) dexterity on the guitar. "Southbound Train" finds him playing in front of a band (including Phil Seaman on drums) that lends a slow, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo"-style accompaniment to his singing and playing. "It Feels So Good" is another band number, this time with saxmen Bruce Turner (alto) and Kenny Graham (tenor) and trumpeter Leslie Hutchinson given more room to stretch out. The performances are first-rate, as is the recording, the cutting of which was assisted by a young (and not yet famous) Joe Meek. One of Broonzy's more interesting and diverse later recordings.

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