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Harry Crafton: 1949-1954

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Album Review

Ever wonder what Louis Jordan might've sounded like had he been in his prime in the 50's instead of the early '40s? This 14-song CD answers that question. It's as fun and entertaining as anything of Jordan's, and it's a fine showcase for some excellent singing and solid, guitar-based R&B by Harry Crafton. The Jarman sides are left out, but the rest of his solo recording career is represented, including a few cuts credited to Doc Bagby's band but featuring the guitarist so prominently as to be Crafton numbers. The highlights also include three previously unissued cuts, an outtake of "It's Been a Long Time Baby," "Rusty Dusty," which is a Crafton outtake of "Get Off, Mama," itself a reworking of the 1942 Louis Jordan song "Rusty Dusty," and "Guitar Boogie," a hot ax-and-sax instrumental. "Let Me Tell You Baby" is a tribute to the sexual prowess of fat men, covering similar ground to Willie Dixon's "Built for Comfort," reminding its women listeners that "there's more love in every pound": the backing chorus behind Crafton's lines about being "big as a bear" is a subtle but brilliantly effective moment. He shines across several years' worth of hot jump blues, from 1949's "Roly Poly Mama" to 1954's "She Got a Mule Kick"; it falls to Agnes Riley, however, to deliver the raunchiest lyrics on this disc, on "Big Fat Hot Dog," from 1954. The sound is amazingly good throughout, even on the outtakes, with Crafton's guitar clean and out in front everywhere it should be. The only track that disappoints is the 1950 Christmas song "Bring That Cadillac Back," on which the band sounds muted.

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Harry Crafton: 1949-1954, Harry Crafton
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