Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mississippi Fred McDowell - I Do Not Play No Rock and Roll (Capitol, 1969, 1995)

In his spoken introduction to this album, McDowell recounts the history of his blues, before making his famous pronouncement, and stating that the only way to rock him is in a rocking chair. He them proceeds to play some torrid electric blues, backed by some swinging bass and drums. Not exactly rock 'n' roll mind you, but pretty intense just the same. Fred's unique slide guitar technique is on display throughout this set which is an expanded version of the original album. McDowell tells a great story during the album about how he started off playing slide with a beef bone before switching to a bottleneck. McDowell plays some excellent versions of classic blues from Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" to a stellar and raucous version of his own "Kokomo Me Baby." His version of "Red Cross Store" intrigued me because this is the third different version I've heard in the past couple of weeks and I was wondering how bad the treatment of blacks was in the south by the Red Cross. I'll have to check and see if I can find any articles or research documenting this. Gospel was an important part of McDowell's repertoire and this is well represented in this collection with "Glory Hallelujah" and "Jesus is on the Mainline." Disc two has some extra tracks from the session and alternate takes, with the highlights being the infectious "Write Me a Few of Your Lines" and "Louise" including another of McDowell's witty spoken introductions. This is an excellent collection by a unique musician who left a wonderful legacy of great blues recordings.

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