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Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 (1951-1957)

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Album Review

When Document reissued the "complete recorded works" of Roosevelt Sykes during the mid-'90s, blues lovers suddenly had unprecedented access to nearly 30 years' worth of material —some 230 titles — which stands as a massive prelude to his full maturity (1960-1983). Volume 10, which covers a period that has been only sporadically tapped for reissue, follows his progress during the years 1951-1957, when young rock & roll musicians began to attract a lot of attention — and cash — by loudly emulating what African American blues artists had been up to for many decades. Sykes, who was already a commanding presence at his first sessions in 1929, and became increasingly formidable over the years, cut tracks 1-14 for the Chicago-based United record company during 1951-1954. Tracks 15-21 were recorded in New Orleans and released on Imperial, while "She's Jail Bait" and "Sputnik" were waxed in Memphis for the House of Sound label. (Take note of this rare example of a blues tune named after a Soviet satellite!) Beginning in 1960, Sykes would achieve unprecedented national and international fame through a series of great albums released on the Prestige Bluesville, Columbia, Folkways, Crown, Delmark, and Spivey labels. The opportunity to hear what the original Honeydripper sounded like during the '50s is a delectable listening opportunity not to be missed.


Born: January 31, 1906 in Elmar, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Next time someone voices the goofball opinion that blues is simply too depressing to embrace, sit 'em down and expose 'em to a heady dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If he doesn't change their minds, nothing will. There was absolutely nothing downbeat about this roly-poly, effervescent pianist (nicknamed "Honeydripper" for his youthful prowess around the girls), whose lengthy career spanned the pre-war and postwar eras with no interruption whatsoever. Sykes' romping boogies and hilariously risqué lyrics...
Full Bio