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Back to Bogalusa

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

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Album Review

In 1995, septuagenarian Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown moved from the independent blues label Alligator to Verve, then to the jazz division of PolyGram, part of Universal. In his five albums for the label (the last two of them released on the Blue Thumb subsidiary) — The Man (1995), Long Way Home (1996), Gate Swings (1997), American Music, Texas Style (1999), and now Back to Bogalusa — he has been able to pursue his eclectic inclinations more fully than he did when his label bosses were trying to emphasize his blues guitar playing. The center of Brown's taste is post-World War II jump blues and R&B with a distinctly Southwestern feel. Tasty as his guitar playing is, he likes to add horns and even a bit of country fiddle to the mix. As its title indicates, Back to Bogalusa particularly investigates the Louisiana influences on this Pelican State native, notably on the tracks "Going Back to Louisiana," "Breaux Bridge Rag," "Bogalusa Boogie Man," and the Cajun-styled "Louisian'." He adds in some sympathetic songs by writers of a later generation, notably "Lie No Better," co-written by Delbert McClinton and Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken," co-written by Lowell George. And he sounds most at home in the funky instrumentals "Grape Jelly" and "Slap It." Brown has taken hits from blues critics for the perceived apostasy of his golden years, but with a singing and playing ability that belies his years he sounds like he's having a wonderful time.

Biography

Born: April 18, 1924 in Vinton, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Whatever you do, don't refer to multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as a bluesman, although his imprimatur on the development of Texas blues is enormous. You're liable to get him riled. If you must pigeonhole the legend, just call him an eclectic Texas...
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Back to Bogalusa, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
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