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You Better Keep Still

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Album Review

It's tough to look bad-ass when you're 77 years old, but check out the sneer on T-Model Ford's face on the cover of You Better Keep Still. The black hat-sporting ex-con from Mississippi didn't get serious about music until he was in his late sixties and he still doesn't take anything seriously as he improvises his way through many of these songs. Musically, he keeps everything as simple and spare as can be; no solos, just jagged guitar riffs set to his partner Spam's primitively unadorned drumming. The record begins with T-Model banging on a wooden box on "If I Had Wings, Pt. 1" and talking madness about trying to get a drink of water and being attacked by various reptiles and women he attempts to hit on. Then comes the extremely catchy guitar riff from "To the Left to the Right," a frenzied, juke-joint dance number. There's also the harsh, out of tune "Here Comes Papa" and the wacked and very funny "These Eyes." Though it's not really essential to the record, producer Jim Water's noisy remix of "Pop Pop Pop," based mostly on a riff from "Here Comes Papa," is groovy. But T-Model Ford is in no need of a club remix. He's got everything down perfect and the wild blues that flow naturally from him are as real and feisty as blues music gets.

Biography

Born: 1924 in Greenville, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist T-Model Ford (James Lewis Carter Ford) played a raw-edged, visceral style of blues from the Mississippi Delta, accompanied much of the time by his drummer, Spam (Tommy Lee Miles). Ford caught a break when he opened up on a national tour for Buddy Guy and his band, playing respectable theaters and some festivals, but he was chronically under-recorded. He began playing guitar late in life and hadn't really toured much outside the Mississippi Delta until the 1990s and...
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You Better Keep Still, T-Model Ford
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