Bo Carter

Twist It Babe: 1931-1940

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Singer/guitarist Bo Chatmon lived something of a double musical life. One had him playing country-blues with the Mississippi Sheiks, one of the most popular African-American string bands of the 1920s and 1930s, while, as Bo Carter, he became a highly successful solo performer, peddling his popular brand of double-entendre blues. The first of two Yazoo Bo Carter anthologies (the companion to Banana in Your Fruit Basket), Twist It, Babe collects sides the guitarist recorded between 1931 and 1938. Carter himself, though he may lack significant spark as a performer, remains a competent fingerpicker, with a smooth, pleasant singing tone. Combined with relatively clean fidelity, the sentiments of his songs have been preserved, loud and clear. Much of the material here is comprised of Carter's one-dimensional sexual metaphors (the title track, "Doubled in a Knot," "Let Me Roll Your Lemon," etc.). Yet while the concerns on Twist It, Babe are largely the same ones that occupied Carter throughout the greater part of his career, they are often less blatant. While "Twist It, Babe" repeats a simple vocal pattern over some graceful guitar work with little variation, songs like "Some Day," "The Law Gonna Step on You," and "I Get the Blues" reveal more complex melodies and greater subtlety in dealing with his subject matter. "Rolling Blues" is a fine version of Jim Jackson's hit "Kansas City Blues" (a song also reworked by Charlie Patton as "Going to Move to Alabama"). "Policy Man Blues" even manages to break the mold with its tale of a familiar roustabout, prone to losing his earnings in card games. Twist It, Babe presents an accurate portrait of Carter and is a more well-rounded collection than its companion volume.

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