Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel


Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Blues/ragtime

Tracks:  13

Playing time:  50 minutes

Availability (out of 3):  3

Related website(s):  http://reverenddavis.org/

My rating: 10/10

I like…  The impassioned singing, the energy and variations of the guitar playing

I’m less keen on…  Nothing – this is authentic blues – allowance needs to be made for the lack of polish! 

__________

I first encountered Rev Gary Davis’ name in guitar tuition books in the early 1980s. I bought a vinyl album containing some of his 1960s recordings (some of which feature on this CD) and, although I wasn’t keen on some of them, others blew me away. I have a number of CDs of his recordings from this period, but I think that this one makes an excellent starting point for his music, especially given the album’s price.

Who?

Although blind from early childhood, by the age of eight or nine, Rev Davis had learned to play guitar, banjo and harmonica. He played and sang on sidewalks to make a living, and mentored Blind Boy Fuller, even claiming that Fuller owed him everything he knew, which seems a little exaggerated. He also made some recordings in the 1930s, but remained aggrieved for the rest of his days about the lack of remuneration he received. This affected his attitude to making recordings in later life. He died in 1972.

As with a number of other black bluesmen who had recorded in the 1920s and 1930s he was rediscovered in the American folk revival of the 1960s.

Rev Davis and Gibson SJ200 guitar

Continue reading “Rev Gary Davis: From Blues To Gospel”

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Kate Rusby: Hourglass

Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Folk (trad, vocal)

Tracks: 11

Playing time:  46 minutes

Availability (out of 3): ***

Related website(s):  http://www.katerusby.com

My rating: 10/10

I like…  Kate’s natural voice, poignant lyrics, minimal arrangements, the combined sound  instruments, tunes, and Kate’s voice

I’m less keen on… Nothing really

__________

I first came across Kate Rusby in a guitar magazine. A few months later she was scheduled to perform a gig nearby. I booked a ticket and decided to sample some of her music beforehand. I settled for this, her first album.

 

Who?

Kate Rusby comes from Barnsley, Yorkshire. Prior to her solo work she had worked with Celtic girl band Continue reading “Kate Rusby: Hourglass”

Don McLean: Tapestry

Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Product DetailsFolk/pop

Tracks: 11

Playing time: 42 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s):  https://don-mclean.com

My rating:  10/10

I like…  Don’s voice, the thought-provoking lyrics, the range of tunes, arrangements and sounds

I’m less keen on…  Nothing really, though as with any album I like some tracks more than others

__________

In 1971 suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, an American singer-songwriter captivated many listeners with an epic but enigmatic song, “American Pie”, and the following year with “Vincent”. Much as I was tempted at the time to buy the “American Pie” album, I opted instead to buy Don’s debut album, “Tapestry”. Although the album, and its title track, shared the same name as Carole King’s better known “Tapestry”, Continue reading “Don McLean: Tapestry”

Fay Hield: Orfeo

Summary

Format: CD

Genre:  Folk (trad; vocal)

Tracks: 11

Playing time:  43 minutes

Availability (out of 3): ***

Related website(s):  www.fayhield.com

My rating:  9/10

I like:  Fay’s voice, the arrangements, 3 especially strong songs including one that blows me away each time

I’m less keen on:  a few of the less melodic songs – personal taste only, however!

_______________

“The Hurricane Party” isn’t what you would expect for the name of the band that backs a singer who performs traditional “folk” music. Continue reading “Fay Hield: Orfeo”

Mississippi John Hurt: Library Of Congress Recordings

Summary

Format: CD (2 discs)mjh-congress-cover

Genre:  Blues/Folk blues

Tracks: 35

Playing time:  108 minutes

Availability (out of 3): **

Related website(s):  http://mississippijohnhurtfoundation.org; for footage and tutorial material: http://www.guitarvideos.com

My rating: 10/10

I like…  The warm, gentle singing and nimble guitar playing, the upbeat feel

I’m less keen on…  –

_______________

Not all acoustic blues will appeal to a newcomer to the genre. I feel that Mississippi John Hurt is a great starting place.

Firstly not all his music was, strictly blues, but came from a wider range of material. Many of the songs he recorded are upbeat and melodic rather then melancholic and strident. Secondly, as the great Doc Watson and Stefan Grossman described them, even Mississippi John’s blues had a happy feel to them!

He recorded a few songs in 1928 and was rediscovered in the 1960s American folk revival, where he endeared himself to a new generation of fans, many of whom learned to play and sing some of his songs.

I love Mississippi John’s guitar playing. It’s tuneful, often mirroring the melody line, and generally gentle and nimble. He plays a steady, alternating bass and weaves the melody over it, with some nice syncopation and bass runs. I play a number of his songs on guitar myself.

Who?

I’ve already given away part of the game. John passed into obscurity Continue reading “Mississippi John Hurt: Library Of Congress Recordings”

Julie Fowlis: Live At Perthshire Amber

Summary41nvyxuvhal-_ac_us160_-album

Format:  CD

Genre:  Folk (mainly traditional; Gaelic; vocal)

Tracks: 13

Playing time:  59 minutes

Availability (out of 3):  ***

Related website(s): www.juliefowlis.com

 My rating:  8/10

I like: Julie’s voice, the arrangements, the sound quality

I’m less keen on :  The flimsy card packaging!

_______________

I first encountered Julie Fowlis’ singing through a friend. Somehow he had bought two copies of her album “Cuilidh” Continue reading “Julie Fowlis: Live At Perthshire Amber”

Ralph McTell: Songs For Six Strings Vol II

Summary

Format: CD6-strings-album

Genre:  Folk (contemporary)

Tracks: 20 (18 songs)

Playing time:  75

Availability (out of 3): *

Related website(s):  http://www.ralphmctell.co.uk

My rating: 10/10

I like…   The range of song topics and moods, the powerful lyrics and great tunes, Ralph’s natural stage manner

I’m less keen on…  Its being hard to source! 

_______________

I was in two minds whether to review this album in view of its present scarcity. In the end I have done so, as used copies will be available at times, and in any case it is a worthwhile album to review!

Who?

early-ralphRalph McTell’s musical career has spanned almost 50 years. He is best known for his song “Streets Of London”, for which he won an Ivor Novello award. In 2002 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Continue reading “Ralph McTell: Songs For Six Strings Vol II”