Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

The Original Cleanhead

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The Flying Dutchman imprint BluesTime made it a specialty of modernizing old blues guys, bringing such stalwarts as T-Bone Walker, Otis Spann, and Big Joe Turner into the paisley-drenched, psychedelic late '60s. BluesTime also signed Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson to its label but, for a variety of reasons, the saxophonist didn't follow the label's directive on 1970's The Original Cleanhead, choosing to more or less adhere to the blend of blues, R&B, and bop that became his signature in the '40s, along with relying on a selection of familiar songs. Vinson does show some signs of settling into his role as an old pro -- his voice, which surfaces often, is robust and gravelly, he prefers to ease back rather than push -- and he's not adverse to giving "Juice Head Baby" space for an organ and horn section that makes it feel somewhat of its time. Nevertheless, The Original Cleanhead captures an elder statesman who demands respect for his old tricks but is intent on not turning them into shtick (this same attitude can be heard on the straight-ahead live cuts from 1970's Super Black Blues, Vol. 2 added as bonus tracks to Ace's 2014 expanded reissue; the highlight is "I Had a Dream" where Vinson recalls a dream he had where he was with Nixon in the white house). This makes The Original Cleanhead not a major session but rather an easy pleasure that's hard to resist.

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