Melvin "Lil' Son" Jackson

Volume 2: Restless Blues

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Melvin "Lil Son" Jackson was the last of a long line of Texas country blues players, and in many ways he was the most polished, playing steadier guitar than Lightnin' Hopkins, the Texas bluesman he most resembles, and his cool, clear vocals carried his stories of romantically wounded ramblers out of the realm of cliché and into the territory of actual narrative, which is probably the only really modern thing about Jackson's early recorded work. He worked from the old country-blues forms and themes, but in updating and adapting them to his own needs, he personalized them just enough to give them singularity. This set from Document, the second in the label's presentation of Jackson's complete recorded work, includes material he recorded between 1950 and 1952 for Imperial Records at sessions held in Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth, some of it featuring Jackson singing solo to his own acoustic or electric guitar accompaniment and some of it with a small blues combo behind him. Highlights include the intimate opener, "New Year's Resolution" (where Jackson clearly sings "revolution" rather than "resolution," which actually adds to the song's charm), the wise (if obvious) "Time Changes Things," the nervous "I Wish I Could Go Home" and the energetic and feisty jump blues of "Red Light." Jackson also does a band-backed do-over of his most famous song here, "Rockin' and Rollin" # 2," which had previously been recorded in a solo setting as "Rockin' and Rollin'," which morphed over time into the blues standard "Rock Me Baby." Jackson pretty much left the music business after his final session for Imperial in 1954, turning his attention increasingly to gospel, although he did record a rediscovery LP of his vintage country-blues for Arhoolie Records in 1960 and cut a few tracks for Roy Ames in Houston in 1963. He was, for all practical purposes, the last of the true country-blues originators to come out of Texas, and his death in 1976 was an incalculable loss to the blues community.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:06
2 3:11
3 2:33
4 2:52
5 2:45
6 2:46
7 2:50
8 2:28
9 2:37
10 2:30
11 2:43
12 2:17
13 2:24
14 2:21
15 2:28
16 2:08
17 2:40
18 2:20
20 2:48
21 2:14
23 2:43
blue highlight denotes track pick